Seafarers Need Training on Future Ship Technologies, Study Finds

DNV study: vast majority of seafarers need training on advanced technologies and new fuels
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A survey conducted by the classification society DNV and co-funded by the Singapore Maritime Foundation, found that approximately 81% of seafarers require training to operate advanced technologies and equipment that are likely to be deployed in future ships. Over 75% also reported the need for training on alternative fuels such as synthetic fuels, batteries or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Interest in training on other fuels such as ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), and methanol (CH3OH) further increased to 87% among survey respondents.

The study analyzed the impact of decarbonization and digitalisation on the maritime industry and seafarers by 2030. It included a literature review, expert consultations, and a survey of over 500 seafarers responsible for operating dry bulk, tank and container ships worldwide. The findings indicate that the skills gap in the shipping industry will be a significant obstacle to the gradual decarbonization of the sector.

The report recommends prioritizing seafarer education over dominant fuels in the current decade and addressing the gap in skills training in digitization and decarbonization. Training could focus on dominant fuels such as LNG and batteries as they are expected to be the most widely used alternative options. The industry should also adopt a future training model that divides responsibility between marine academies and ship operators.

The new training methodologies will optimize resources and ensure seafarers have access to the best training, mixing digital and face-to-face training components. Technologies like VR and AR have the potential to aid seafarers’ training. The report recommends that maritime training organizations and employers refocus on soft-skill development. Future training could involve incorporating new firefighting techniques and methods into the curriculum to combat fires created by new fuels.

As decarbonization and digitalisation transform the maritime landscape, shipowners and managers must understand the new challenges and opportunities to safely and efficiently operate ships using new fuels and technologies. Seafarers must be equipped with the competence and skills to meet those needs, thus improving industry attractiveness and retention. According to the Chairman of the SMF, Mr. Hor Weng Yew, “the work we are doing in this decade is important and complements the shipping community’s efforts to reach net zero in 2050.”

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