UK sets out to become leading maritime tech pioneer

A new long-term strategy launched today aims to make the UK a top global test-bed of emerging maritime technologies.

The Maritime 2050 strategy launched by the British government after a year’s consultancy with the private sector outlines a range of short, medium and long-term proposals, including developing technology, people, and infrastructure, to keep the maritime industry in the UK flourishing.

These include establishing an innovation hub at a UK port by 2030, looking at ways to clean up emissions from the industry, and building on the training already offered to seafarers.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling commented: “Maritime is a vital UK industry, bringing in £14bn to our economy as well as providing thousands of new and exciting careers for people across the country.

“This strategy is a clear message to the world – we will continue to be a leading maritime nation for the next 30 years and beyond.”

New legislation will introduce a domestic framework for autonomous vessels to enhance testing in UK waters. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is looking at what is needed to ensure the safety of these and other ships.

The UK will also pioneer the use of virtual and augmented reality in seafarer training as the government looks to establish a Maritime Skills Commission, bringing together experts to report in the existing and future needs of the industry.

Harry Theochari, chairman of lobbying group Maritime UK, said: “For the first time the maritime sector has a real long term strategy – setting out what government and industry will do to position the UK as the world’s leading maritime nation over the coming decades in an increasingly competitive global context.”

Government projections suggest the global ocean economy will double in value to $3trn in 11 years’ time.

By 2030, the government will develop a Maritime Innovation Hub, supporting new technologies while also boosting regional productivity with new jobs. And later this year, a Clean Maritime Plan will set out ways the UK will lead the way in green standards to reach zero emission shipping as quickly as possible.

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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