Many applications of the smart technology have already arisen in the shipping industry and much more are expected to be launched. Smart shipping is defined as the application of Know How & Technology aiming to provide added value on both commercial and technical issues for all stakeholders.

The SAFETY4SEA ‘Share your Smart Shipping Insights’ survey, conducted during Q4 2016, assessed how maritime stakeholders have realized the current and future smart shipping challenges, gathering 435 replies for a number of 27 countries. With respect to the survey findings, SAFETY4SEA, came to a few conclusions with the lack of awareness on several aspects to be the foremost of them.

The Survey first of all defined the five top rated Smart Shipping Challenges;

  • Cyber Security (40.6%),
  • Crew Training using new technologies and software i.e. Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality (33.0%),
  • Energy Management & Emissions Monitoring (32.1%),
  • E-Navigation (31.1%) and
  • ECDIS (29.2%).

E-Navigation and ECDIS proved to be a matter of focus. Despite the fact that IMO Model Course 1.27 exists for approximately 50 years and most ships are equipped with ECDIS systems for 50 years as well, the majority of industry stakeholders (59,6%) strongly believe that there is a problem in crew training arguing that the inadequate crew training & familiarization with the ECDIS Model/ Type are inherent to full implementation of ECDIS. As far as ECDIS malfunctions are concerned, the Survey showed an interesting finding; a few of the participants (5.4%) believe that ECDIS malfunctions have affected their operations while 3 out of 4 of the participants think that the problems that they have faced so far are minor.

In terms of the experience with cyber-attacks, 80.2% of the participants have not faced cyber-attack, however, they are of the opinion that shipping is not cyber secured at all. According to the Survey, the most vulnerable to cyber threats systems onboard were found to be: Positioning systems (56.9%), ECDIS (50.0%), Engine Control and Monitoring Systems (28.4%) and GMDSS (22.5%).

People today tend to forget that there is an aspect of cyber risks associated with offices. The majority of the Survey’s participants (78.8%) doesn’t consider the industry as safe and secure to cyber risks however they acknowledge that progress has been made and awareness is being built.

The last focal point of the Survey was autonomous shipping. Participants answered questions considering the prospects of autonomous shipping. Approximately 40% of them believe that is something very close, 41.5% believe that autonomous shipping will become a reality for the industry beyond 2030. However, there are 17.0% who think the industry is far away from this vision.

The interesting thing is that if we have asked the same question 3 years ago, the results would have been different. 3 years ago the 50% or 70% of the participants or maybe more of them would think that autonomous shipping will never become a reality.

As time goes by, people tend to change ideas. Eventually, the issue of autonomous shipping should not be neglected as it is coming fast.

After all, the feedback of the survey regarding the penetration potential to shipping was characterized as inconsistent. In particular, the survey depicted that autonomous shipping may be implemented successfully at the following segments: short sea/ inland navigation (29.8%); containers (24.0%) and offshore activities (13.5%).

In the final stage of the Survey process, the participants were asked to reply a question referring to the top three risks associated with the use of unmanned ships where navigational risks such as collision and grounding turned out to be a key topic gathering the percentage of 61.3%. Cyber safety/ cyber security and loss of communication followed as major risks.

Survey revealed the foremost obstacle of which was mindset. Through the next 15 years, more change is due to be observed, compared to the last 100 years as new technologies are coming very fast into implementation and ship operators are obliged with new regulations as well. The right question is not “What will change?” but “What will not change?” and definitely we are going to witness many changes in the future with respect to smart shipping.

SAFETY4SEA infographic depicts survey findings and key data.

Above text is an edited article of Apostolos Belokas presentation during the 2017 SMART4SEA Conference & Awards

You may view his video presentation by clicking here


About Apostolos Belokas, Founder & Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA

Apostolos is a Maritime Safety, Quality & Environmental Expert, Consultant, Trainer and Project Manager with more than a 20-year background in shipping as Technical, Marine, Safety & Training Superintendent and Consultant. He entered the industry back in early 90’s as Engineering Superintendent with a leading ship manager operating a mixed fleet of bulk and oil/chemical tankers. He then shifted to regulatory compliance and QHSE as superintendent and later as a Consultant and Trainer. Apostolos has successfully completed a wide range of QHSE projects including 250+ management system projects (ISM/ISO 9001-14001-18001/TMSA/MLC), 500 vessel and office audits to various standards and he has trained more than 8,000 people in a wide variety of QHSE subjects. He has also presented and chaired to more than 40 conferences. He holds Mechanical Engineering Bachelor and Master’s specialising in Energy & Environment and Master’s Degree in Maritime Business and Business Administration (MBA), all of them awarded with distinction. Apostolos is the Managing Director of SQE MARINE, SQE ACADEMY and Managing Editor of SAFETY4SEA and GREEN4SEA.