A new year and new developments
Sea Breezes welcomes all our readers to the first edition of 2018 and sends you our best wishes for good health and fortune in the year ahead.
This year does, of course, mark the 100th anniversary of one of the most significant events in world history - the end of the Great War, and is an appropriate moment for poignant reflection on the huge sacrifice made by those seamen who lost their lives in the various theatres of war across the world’s oceans between 1914 -1918. Back in those days, the maritime sector had a dominant role in world affairs, not just in the wartime era, but in merchant trade and leisure travel, with the development of commercial airlines of any scale still decades away. The year 1918 was also the last before the creation of “Sea Breezes“ so we are not far off from celebrating our 100th anniversary too.
It is something to think that after almost 100 years reporting, the world of shipping remains as fascinating as ever, with the construction of ever more colossal passenger cruise vessels and container ships; and the ongoing need for Naval presence in the various political danger zones or humanitarian disaster regions of the world. Following decades when shipping has played a key role in the cultivation of oil and gas fields around the globe, the maritime sector now also has an important role to play in the renewables sector and the industry as a whole continues to be challenged in mitigating its environmental footprint.
The world continues to develop in many ways, unforeseeable all those years ago. Many companies are now engaged in the race to develop “autonomous“ shipping. I must say I still require some persuading on the merits of crew-less ships, but there has been a flurry of reports in recent years about the possibilities that are now being pursued. In late 2017, a Dutch consortium of 20 partners (including the high profile Damen shipyards) announced a project to develop autonomous shipping. This followed Rolls-Royce’s announcement a few months earlier that it was looking closely at the development of autonomous vessels, particularly their potential for patrolling and surveillance duties. A vessel is due to be launched in Norway in the coming year with the aim of it transitioning to fully crew-less status by 2020.
Another interesting development in recent years, is the potential for shipping routes from the Far East to the western world to be shortened through use of the Arctic passage. There have certainly been more transits through this northernmost route in recent years, although the Suez Canal route still reigns supreme, but I am sure that companies and ship designers will be looking closely at the possibilities and efficiencies the Arctic route might bring.
It is a great joy for us at Sea Breezes to continue to provide a blend of news on current (and future) developments as well as enjoying many trips down memory lane. We look forward to hearing from you if you have any articles to contribute or any views you wish to register and thank you in advance for your continuing support in 2018.
HAMISH ROSS, EDITOR