The 20s: Decade of Smart Shipping

Changes are underway in the global shipping industry as South Korea develops smart ship technology while Japan installs ‘scrubbers’ and the UK experiments with autonomous vessels.

HMM Algeciras. Image by HMM

Smart Ships
South Korean shipping company HMM has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with compatriot shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) on smart ship technology. Under the MoU, they plan to collaborate in the research, development and innovation in the field of smart ship solutions. It covers the development of eco-friendly technologies applicable for smart ships and the enhancement of technological competence related to the digitalisation of ships.

Under this partnership, HMM has adopted ‘SVESSEL’, an advanced smart ship solution developed by SHI. The cloud-based SVESSEL has been applied to five out of twelve 24,000 TEU mega containerships delivered to HMM this year. They are preparing to operate a Smart Ship Control Centre that monitors the safety and efficiency of ships in real time based on an extensive range of data including cargo information, service routes, locations, ocean weather and vessel conditions.

Scrubbers to improve fuel
In January we reported about the switch to maximum 0.5% low-sulphur fuel for cargo vessels, and then how the efforts of some shipowners to comply by having their vessels fitted with equipment called “scrubbers” at shipyards in China was stymied by the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. Since then it has been very difficult for technicians to come onboard ships to commission scrubbers.

Japanese shipbuilding major Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has, however, managed to place its in-house produced DIA-SOx marine SOx scrubbers on 22 ships so far this year. The company said that its subsidiary Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. had installed the scrubbers onboard five 20,000 TEU containerships, eight 14,000 TEU containerships and five 10,000 TEU boxships, as well as two oil tankers and two LPG carriers.

Autonomous Ship Trial
The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS), one of the world’s first fully autonomous ships, will be officially launched on September 16th in Plymouth, UK. MAS’s transatlantic voyage will be based on a similar route to the 1620 Mayflower which made the same crossing 400 years ago. However, this time around the vessel will be using IBM’s AI, advanced servers, cloud and edge computing technologies to navigate autonomously and avoid ocean hazards. If successful, it will be one of the first self-navigating, full-sized vessels to cross the Atlantic Ocean and the project developers believe this would open the door on a new era of autonomous ships.

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