There will be no shortage of jobs for seafarers, particularly officers, as a result of the introduction of autonomous ships, says the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS),
This was one of the major findings in a special study for the ICS carried out by the Hamburg School of Business Administration (HSBA).
The HSBA was asked to look into the potential effects of autonomous ships on the role of seafarers and the global shipping industry.
It found: “Autonomous shipping has gone beyond the theoretical stage, and is set to usher in a new business model for shipping. Advanced demonstrations and real-world deployments are increasing, even though at this stage these involve predominately smaller vessels deployed on shorter distances.
“Despite differed forecasts of when there will be greater presence of autonomous ships sailing the oceans, the reality is that smart ships are definitely coming. For seafarers, this will mean that their roles will have to be redefined.”
The ICS secretary general Guy Platten said the two-year IMO regulatory scoping exercise for maritime autonomous surface ships is now well underway to determine how existing IMO instruments can be adapted to ensure that autonomous ships are safe, secure and environmentally sound.
“This is a complex task, 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 autonomous ships on seafarers employed worldwide,” said Mr Platten.
“With over 1.6mn seafarers currently estimated to serve on merchant ships trading internationally, the impact on seafarers requires thorough consideration going forward.
“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.”
Mr Platten said the study indicated that in order to get introduced, autonomous shipping will have to gain public acceptance.