Too many ships are colliding, grounding and sinking across the world, demonstrating how unsafe the maritime industry is for seafarers
Too many mariners are not returning to their families and friends because of navigation mistakes or engine failures.
Shipping is an industry that needs to improve safety and prevent navigation accidents, not only for the people involved, but also for the marine environment and to preserve global trade.
Major accidents such as grounding of ultra-large container ship Ever Given in the Suez Canal, Egypt in March highlight the risks to worldwide maritime trade. This grounded box ship blocked the key shipping shortcut for days and caused weeks of delays for cargo deliveries.
In another shortcut, Germany’s Kiel Canal, a tanker collided with a general cargo ship on 27 July. Tanker Orasund struck cargo carrier BBC Parana near the Kiel locks causing the sea lane to be temporarily closed. Both ships sustained damage and were detained, highlighting the danger to assets from such collisions.
Other examples of maritime accidents come from container ships losing cargo in heavy weather the ships should be avoiding through better voyage planning.
Maritime accident investigations often identify issues with safety management and navigation procedures at shipping companies.
Investigators discover poorly set up ECDIS, badly planned voyages, lack of route checking and striking gaps in seafarer knowledge and expertise on e-navigation equipment.
Many of these issues should have been identified and addressed before an accident occurred.
Management can then update ship management documentation, procedures and practices, while skill shortages can be minimised through training. Safe navigation needs to be key to shipowners, operators and managers – in actions not just words.
The next step is to implement voyage optimisation to cut emissions. Well-trained bridge teams can cut owners’ operating expenditure through lower fuel consumption, thus reducing emissions.
Voyage optimisation will be an important tool in shipping’s drive to lower greenhouse gas emissions as will implementing just-in-time (JIT) port arrival processes.
By integrating weather routeing with ocean data and port information, ship operators can reduce speed to an optimal level for its expected arrival time at a berth.
Shipping is beginning to test these processes by installing e-navigation technology on ships and frequently updating port information and weather forecasts.
In one trial, ESL Shipping has reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on regular cargo routes between two Swedish ports, and there are plans to expand this to other ports and ships later this year.
This JIT trial is part of an EU co-funded Bothnia Bulk and Zero Vision Tool joint industry project for safer, environmentally friendly and energy-efficient transport by sea.
More of these projects will be implemented over the next few years to demonstrate the green and cost-cutting possibilities.
Another emerging technology being implemented is artificial intelligence (AI) in navigation to reduce accidents, optimise routeing and plan port berthing.
Petrodec is adopting AI on its LPG carriers to improve navigation, minimise accident risks and lower insurance costs. It sees the significant potential of AI for improving real-time navigational awareness and learning from difficult navigational situations.
Many new technologies are being trialled to lower shipping emissions, reduce expenditure and optimise port and ship operations.
What needs to be guaranteed is these technologies do not reduce ship safety or introduce human errors. Seafarers need training in these new technologies and backup from shore managers to ensure they can deal with issues arising at sea. Technology needs to enhance operations, not jeopardise safety.
Riviera Maritime Media’s Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week is being held 9 August 2021 – use this link for more details and to register