As a new decade unfolds, owners, operators and managers will glimpse the future of shipping with cyber-secure, autonomous vessels with high-speed connectivity
2020 will be pivotal for maritime autonomy, digitalisation, cyber security and future shipping communications. Shipowners will face huge changes in the technology used to optimise operations, secure assets from cyber threats, implement autonomous vessel applications and provide lightning-fast internet access on vessels.
These are the key trends in maritime in 2020 and beyond into the new decade of shipping innovation – as in only 10 years, shipping must cut emissions by 40% as per the IMO 2030 strategy.
Autonomous shipping for the future
2020 will be the year for autonomous vessel innovation and trials, which will culminate with the first Atlantic crossing of an unmanned vessel. In September 2020, the Mayflower autonomous ship (MAS) will attempt the world’s first transatlantic voyage from Plymouth, UK to Plymouth, US, using artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and edge computing and remote monitoring technology.
This fully autonomous ship is being developed, built and tested by a consortium led by marine research organisation ProMare and with IBM’s PowerAI Vision and cloud computing. Mayflower’s onboard computers will receive real-time data and images. Other data feeds will include radar, light detection and ranging and automated identification system data.
When it sets sail, maritime will get a view of a future for transocean shipping including radical design and alternative power sources.
Meanwhile, IMO will continue to develop regulations covering testing and operating maritime autonomous surface ships.
And in Norway, the world’s first autonomous commercial ship will take shape ready for sea trials in 2021. Yara Birkeland is under construction for delivery in 2021 as an autonomous and all-electric container feeder for one specific coastal trade.
IMO cyber 2021
As 2020 begins, shipowners will have one year to implement IMO’s cyber security regulations. IMO 2021 is fast approaching and owners, operators and managers must be certain they will be compliant.
IMO amendments to the International Ship Management (ISM) Code come into force on 1 January 2021. By then, shipping companies will have to change Safety Management Systems to incorporate onboard cyber security.
They need to recognise vulnerabilities and produce cyber risk management strategies, including crew training, to ensure their IT and operational technology is protected from cyber threats. Expect a rush to compliance and calls for extensions and opt-outs. Also expect greater interest in Riviera Maritime Media’s Maritime Cyber Risk Management Forums in London and Houston in 2020.
Digitalisation turns into optimisation
Shipowners will implement digitalisation strategies and internet-of-things (IoT) technology in 2020 as they seek to deliver performance optimisation. Smarter navigation will be deployed to envelope optimised voyage planning, weather routeing, ship traffic management and IMO’s e-navigation guidance – all to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
This will become regulatory within the next decade as owners are urged to cut emissions to meet IMO’s 2030 strategy for reducing shipping’s environmental footprint.
IoT for condition-based and predictive maintenance will contribute by prevent equipment failures, poor performance and downtime.
Optimisation will also involve better crewing planning and training seafarers to recognise and implement optimised voyage plans, reducing engine emissions and saving energy.
With all this in mind, there should also be greater interest in Riviera Maritime Media’s Optimised Ship Forum series that will be held in Rotterdam, Singapore, Oslo, Hamburg and London in 2020.
On the safety front, IMO will modernise the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) with new services introduced from both Iridium and Inmarsat. Iridium’s will use its new generation of low-Earth orbit satellites, while Inmarsat will introduce GMDSS on FleetBroadband terminals.
2020 starts with one of the most influential IMO regulatory meetings for safety and emergency communications. IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications, Search and Rescue will meet in London on 13-24 January to analyse progress on modernising GMDSS. Its reports will be fed into the next Maritime Safety Committee for approval and ratification.
Second-generation HTS enable 2 Gbps bandwidth
Throughout the next decade, ships will be able to access faster connectivity as a new generation of high-throughput satellites (HTS) are launched and commissioned. This will enable new communications and applications including real-time video and data streaming to and from ships across all maritime sectors, but especially in passenger shipping and offshore support.
A global drive to deliver a leap in maritime and remote connectivity was kicked off by Inmarsat in December 2019 as it launched the first of its second-generation Global Xpress (GX) satellites, GX5. Inmarsat intends to commission this series of geostationary satellites over the next three years to boost downlink and uplink ship communications.
SES will build its new medium-Earth orbit mPower constellation and launch new HTS geostationary satellites in the next three years to enable cruise ships and offshore vessels to achieve speeds of 2 Gbps.
Intelsat will launch its EpicNG second-generation satellites and others will commission more HTS during the next five years.
2020 and the decade beyond is shaping up to be a revolutionary period for shipping innovation, optimisation and communications.