An expert panel of speakers will discuss how automation and advances in connectivity could solve the looming skills crisis in the industry at the Seatrade Offshore Marine & Workboats Middle East (SOMWME), to be held next month, in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
The issue will be addressed on day one of the exhibition and conference, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) from September 25 to 27, where speakers at the ‘Manning Update’ will assess the role of automation in tackling the ongoing challenge.
Emma Howell, group marketing manager, Seatrade portfolio, UBM EMEA, said: “The number of skilled personnel across multiple functions has been in decline for a number of years.”
“In 2010, The Manpower Report by BIMCO/ISF calculated the global supply of officers stood at 624,000, compared to a demand for 637,000, concluding the figures were ‘near-ideal’,” she said.
“However, by 2016, the shortfall stood at 16,500 officers and is predicted to rise to 147,000 worldwide by 2025. In the US, figures published in 2016 by the US Maritime Administration placed the country’s shortfall at 70,000 mariners by 2022,” she added.
Moderated by Captain Michael P Elwert, group chief executive officer, Elektrans Group, the panel will feature William Tobin, underwriting syndicate manager – offshore, The Shipowners Club and Captain John Lloyd, chief executive officer, The Nautical Institute, as well as Revd Dr Paul Burt, regional director, Gulf and South Asia, Mission to Seafarers.
Captain Lloyd commented: “The increasing sophistication of technology is opening the door to serious discussions about the remote control of ships, perhaps one day leading to completely autonomous vessels.”
“While moving in this direction gives wonderful opportunities to improve reliability, one of the key challenges will be to balance the cost of reliability against performance and financial viability through savings. That is really a matter for the technologists and the economists to address,” he said.
Automation in shipping is not a new concept; many responsibilities, checks and safety functions are now carried out autonomously. But in the age of driverless vehicles and remote controlled drones, the first unmanned, autonomous ship, could be on the horizon.
It would not be the first time, complicated skill sets are delegated to artificial intelligence – aviation has undergone a similar transformation, with the role of the pilot evolving with each new generation of aircraft. However, innovations in shipping can be leveraged to address a gap, rather than requiring existing specialists to up-skill.
Lloyd continued: “On the operational side it is important we create a regulatory framework which gives an opportunity for these vessels to be developed and then to identify the skills required to operate them safely and efficiently.”
“It is likely these skills will draw heavily on maritime knowledge and experience if we are to develop effective solutions. As the professional body for those in control of ships, The Nautical Institute is already actively engaged in these discussions and looks forward to the next generation of ships and operations supported by world-leading technology and innovation,” he added.
Part of SOMWME’s Power 60s series the Manning Update will be followed by a session on finance and law, moderated by Eithne Treanor, founder and managing director of E Treanor Media and featuring Bora Bariman, head of energy and marine, Corporate & Institutional Banking Group, National Bank of Fujairah; David Manuel, senior marine specialist - Petrodata, IHS Markit; Knut Mathiassen, managing partner, NorthCape DMCC; Dr Khaled Al Mazrouei, chief executive officer, Abu Dhabi Ship Building and Tien Tai, partner, Holman Fenwick Willan.
Elsewhere in the conference programme, discussion will turn to green and efficient vessels for the future.
Seatrade Offshore Marine & Workboats is the largest workboat and offshore marine event outside of the US, attracting more than 200 offshore marine and workboat companies, it stated. – TradeArabia News Service