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  • Japan to launch unmaned crew ship

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017...ner-ships/amp/
    So it says the US Navy is responsible for pushing this forward

  • #2
    I would like to know how they think all the maintenance work will be done without a crew? Washing, sweeping holds, cleaning bilges, chipping and painting, checking lashings, etc. Mooring operations will be interesting with no crew! Faulty reefers don't fix themselves. I can't see how it will work in practice.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Maritimer View Post
      I would like to know how they think all the maintenance work will be done without a crew? Washing, sweeping holds, cleaning bilges, chipping and painting, checking lashings, etc. Mooring operations will be interesting with no crew! Faulty reefers don't fix themselves. I can't see how it will work in practice.
      I think you'll probably find that a team will board it a few miles off the port and bring it in and same on departure... As for everything else you mention, can easily be done by shore teams when its in port.
      “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

      – Mark Twain
      myBlog | @alistairuk | flickr | youtube Views and opinions expressed are those of myself and not representative of any employer or other associated party.

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      • #4
        Hardly good news for people just starting out in the industry. I know that it will still be a good few years off but it doesn't exactly fill one with confidence.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by alistairuk View Post
          I think you'll probably find that a team will board it a few miles off the port and bring it in and same on departure... As for everything else you mention, can easily be done by shore teams when its in port.
          But those maintenence teams will still want paying, and in Europe and North America the wages would have to be much higher than than a Filipino AB would cost. With port calls lasting only hours it will take more than a handful of people to get everything done. I think a combo of more people being paid higher wages will mean that companies will conclude it's easier and cheaper to continue as things currently are.

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          • #6
            What happens when it breaks down in the middle of the Pacific?
            io parlo morse

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            • #7
              The way I see autonomous ships is that the technology is probably there, or at least close to, being possible for autonomous ships to some extent. However, the cost is what will deter companies from going down this route.

              Firstly, you need to consider the mechanical aspects, the ship will need mechanical redundancy in many areas, thus more equipment onboard, more equipment that will need servicing in line with manufacturer guidelines. Then you will need to employ shore teams to perform this maintenance, this could be expensive in some countries.

              Secondly, the ship will need to be provided with a high bandwidth stable internet connection, plus redundancy, this alone will be incredibly expensive. Also, there are many vulnerabilities with satellite internet, heavy rain can easily wipe out the signal for a period of time, what is the default programming of the system in this situation.

              Thirdly, interaction with 3rd parties. How will countries feel about an autonomous ship entering their waters, will they want some level of control of that ship, will a shipping company want to allow a 3rd party full access to its ship without oversight? What about interaction with small craft without AIS and good radar reflection, what happens in that situation? When a fishing boat is mown down in Chinese Waters by a remotely operated ship from a control centre in Miami, that could be a political minefield.

              What about the pilotage side of things, how does the ship manoeuvre into ports? It might be possible on a highly sophisticated ship with many thrusters and a DP system to enter ports and berth remotely, but it will be incredibly slow and no major port is going to reduce its capacity to allow for that.

              I think a lot of questions remain unanswered. But considering that on large ships they still have a large engineering and maintenance team onboard and haven't gone down to just having a captain and mate monitoring systems from their cabin, I think crew will remain cheaper than technology for a while to come yet.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Maritimer View Post
                But those maintenence teams will still want paying, and in Europe and North America the wages would have to be much higher than than a Filipino AB would cost. With port calls lasting only hours it will take more than a handful of people to get everything done. I think a combo of more people being paid higher wages will mean that companies will conclude it's easier and cheaper to continue as things currently are.
                Your basing your assumptions on what your company currently does though, removing crew from a ship will obviously result in changes to the way they are managed and operated...

                Maintenance: Rather than doing "ongoing maintenance" there's no reason why majority can't be done during routine servicing either every few months or even yearly when vessel is out of service (or you send people onboard for a couple of weeks while its happily sailing itself - assuming it has accommodation facilities)... Day to day repairs can easily be done during port calls, if its automated just like these fancy new aircraft, they will continuously send fault reports / status reports back to base - allowing problems to potentially be diagnosed remotely and parts / repair team to be ready on arrival.

                Time in port: Who knows how long they will keep it in port - you'd assume they would want minimal time in port, but that might not turn out to be the most cost effective.

                Crewing (other than fuel) is one of the highest costs for ship owners - hence why they're trying to minimise numbers of crew onboard all the time... removing crew altogether would be a massive saving for a company, even if they had to employ some babysitters onboard - 2 or 3 people is a lot less than current numbers on cargo ships.

                I doubt we'll see them operating in busy coastal areas anytime soon, but if your running them back and forward across the pacific or even the Atlantic - having crew able to jump on and off when it starts / ends the ocean section of the voyage would save the owners a fortune!

                Time will tell
                “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

                – Mark Twain
                myBlog | @alistairuk | flickr | youtube Views and opinions expressed are those of myself and not representative of any employer or other associated party.

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                • #9
                  Is this being pushed by shipping companies....or technology companies looking for business? Also I suggest any passenger ships and dangerous cargo it will be a lot longer coming

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                  • #10
                    I think people get to excited by these things. Automation is a long term process not a one off event. We won't go from crews of 20 or 30 to crews of none over night. In fact it's already happening and hadn't dammed us all. Look at ships from decades past with considerably larger crew. But technology has reduced the need for these. Eg ums in engine rooms better paint meaning less maintenance.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lewis View Post
                      I think people get to excited by these things. Automation is a long term process not a one off event. We won't go from crews of 20 or 30 to crews of none over night. In fact it's already happening and hadn't dammed us all. Look at ships from decades past with considerably larger crew. But technology has reduced the need for these. Eg ums in engine rooms better paint meaning less maintenance.
                      We are starting to see a reversal of this now though, more technology has meant more ships having electricians onboard for instance and more paperwork has brought extra ranks on ships to help deal with it.

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