German Firm HGK Shipping Explores Remote-Controlled Ships Given Shortage Of Sailors

Vessel
Image credits: HGK Shipping GmbH

As the influx of recruits into the maritime industry reduces, a German firm, HGK Shipping, is considering a path-breaking strategy: deploying vessels without captains onboard.

Based in the port of Duisburg, HGK Shipping is currently testing remote navigation from a land-based control centre, heralding a probable revolution in maritime operations.

Steffen Bauer, the CEO of HGK, highlighted the need for autonomous vessels, stating that they’re the only solution for the industry to survive amid dwindling recruitment.

With the average age of captains on 350 vessels hovering around 55, Bauer expressed worries regarding losing 30% of sailors by 2030 if no measures are undertaken.

In pursuit of a solution, HGK has collaborated with the Belgian startup Seafar, one of the frontrunners in autonomous navigation.

Seafar, established in 2019, operates four uncrewed vessels in Belgium and has expanded its presence to Germany, a pivotal player in inland shipping in Europe.

The uncrewed vessels are directed from a control centre, transforming navigation from strenuous labour into an appealing office-based occupation.

Cameras and sensors: Janis Bargsten, the director of Seafar, mentioned a substantial market for remote-controlled vessels, adding that establishing a regulatory framework will take less time than perfecting the tech.

In Duisburg, HGK and Seafar have developed a centre for autonomous navigation and are now awaiting the approval of Germany’s authorities to launch the first vessels.

Two captains will be on the remotely guided vessels in the initial test stage.

According to Bauer, the longer-term purpose is to eradicate the captain’s role while keeping some of the crew members on board.

The tech is similar to that used in self-driving cars: the vessels come with cameras, sensors, radar and lidar, disseminating real-time data to the command centre. Everything is as it would be on a vessel.

Navigator Patrick Hertoge reported to AFP in Duisburg next to 10 monitors displaying the current status of an autonomous barge as it was on its way to Hamburg.

Life on land after 30 years of skippering his barge, 58-year-old Hertoge had been recruited by Seafar to work on the autonomous shipping job.

The son of two sailors sold off his vessel, and for the first time, he found a home on dry land. He said that one is on standby for 24 hours on a vessel. But here, after eight hours, one can go home.

Seafar wishes to start more pilot schemes in Europe and is in “advanced” discussions with the French inland waterways authority.

Bargsten also said it plans a test project in the Baltic Sea.

According to a spokesperson associated with the German Federation of Inland Shipping (BDB), autonomous navigation can bring massive relief to an industry that is under pressure but would not solve every problem.

New questions of responsibility” need some legal clarifications.

Per Bargsten, in case of a technical issue, the Seafar will be liable, but human errors would easily be chalked up to the shipping firm.

Remotely navigating a vessel continues to be a highly demanding job, which could not be left to the “gamers” he mentioned. With years of real-life captaining, Hertoge is convinced it can work.

He stated that much of the work of captaining a vessel is identical on land as in the control room. The only missing thing is the wind.

Reference: Firstpost

Disclaimer :
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

Disclaimer :
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

Do you have info to share with us ? Suggest a correction

About Author

Marine Insight News Network is a premier source for up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful coverage of the maritime industry. Dedicated to offering the latest news, trends, and analyses in shipping, marine technology, regulations, and global maritime affairs, Marine Insight News Network prides itself on delivering accurate, engaging, and relevant information.

About Author

Marine Insight News Network is a premier source for up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful coverage of the maritime industry. Dedicated to offering the latest news, trends, and analyses in shipping, marine technology, regulations, and global maritime affairs, Marine Insight News Network prides itself on delivering accurate, engaging, and relevant information.

By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy and may receive occasional deal communications; you can unsubscribe anytime.

BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *