ICS study suggests positive future for seafarers despite autonomous shift

ICS study suggests positive future for seafarers despite autonomous shift

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has released a new study conducted by the Hamburg School of Business Administration (HSBA) on behalf of ICS, regarding the potential effects of autonomous ships on the role of seafarers and the global shipping industry. The good news for seafarers eminating from the study is that there will still be plenty of job opportunities available in the next two decades despite the inevitable changes wrought about by new technology.

The two-year IMO regulatory scoping exercise for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) is now well underway to determine how existing IMO instruments can be leveraged to ensure that autonomous ships are safe, secure, and environmentally sound.

ICS secretary general Guy Platten commented: “This a complex task, expected to impact several areas under IMO’s purview, and while it is recognised that clear opportunities might arise for the shipping industry which may not exist today, much more work must be done, particularly on the regulatory side and to address concerns about the impact of MASS on seafarers employed worldwide.”

The study commissioned by ICS includes an in-depth assessment of risk and opportunities of digitalisation in global logistics chains, as well as on digitalisation and automation in ship operations.

The findings of the study suggest that the role of personnel onboard and ashore will need to be redefined both operationally and legally. Reviewing and understanding how these roles may evolve is also identified in the study as an important aspect to assess and address the impact of autonomous ships on the role of seafarers.

“Encouragingly, the study indicates that there will be no shortage of jobs for seafarers, especially officers, in the next two decades. While the size of crews may evolve in response to technological changes on board, there may also be considerable additional jobs ashore which require seafaring experience,” Platten explained.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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