These are challenging times for the global marine industry due to COVID-19 – but there are opportunities for positive changes too.
We ask Kevin Daffey, IMarEST President, what role IMarEST and our members can take to shape its future.
These are challenging times for many in the marine industry. What can we do?
What is happening in the world today and seeing the bigger picture is so important right now.
Imposed restrictions by nation states as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has inhibited crew mobility, leaving thousands of seafarers quarantined onboard ships, or stuck in foreign countries unable to get flights back to their home country. Many have seen their contracts expire.
Tens of thousands, possibly many, many more, have been affected and it’s been a human tragedy that has had little media coverage, except for the high-profile cruise ships.
Even now, many are stranded, and ship owners are struggling to manage crew changes, although the EU and Singapore have been working hard to promote free passage in ports so that seafarers can return home.
It’s why we’re holding an online webinar event for members on 3 June to look at how can we all work together to navigate the pandemic.
It’s a big subject touching many aspects of the marine world. What aspects of the pandemic will be covered?
We can’t cover it all, that’s true. We are focusing on four main areas.
Making the marine workplace better and safer: Claire Peckan from Safe Marine will lead the discussion on how seafarers have been affected – and how we can make the workplace better for those working at sea.
Cruise industry challenges: Ever since passengers were infected by coronavirus off Japan in early February, the cruise industry has been badly affected – and it made headlines all around the world. Dealing with viruses and pathogens might not be new for cruise ships but this one is much harder to address. Mattias Jörgensen, Foreship Business Development Director, will lead the discussion on how we can rebuild confidence in cruising.
Remote surveys – opportunities? Another topic we’ll be discussing is the potential of remote surveys in light of social distancing and the realities of working in the era of coronavirus.
Vassilios Kroustallis, Vice President, Europe Regional Business Development, ABS will be talking about classification society remote surveys and how we’re going to have to embrace a wealth of new technologies. How will we survey or resurvey with the difficulty of moving people around?
There will be a lot of change because of the pandemic, but there are opportunities too. Increased use of drones for example could drive costs down and make what can be a difficult or dangerous task easier.
Technology is vital: I’ll be challenging on the future of tech in the industry, what we know – and where it could take us.
Our online panel discussion on 3 June is an opportunity for all of us to work together and contribute to what that will look like.
If you want to take part, you can register here.
COVID-19 has impacted the Institute’s operations but the IMarEST Annual Conference, postponed in March, is now going ahead in July.
So, unfortunately, like all the events and conferences, we had to postpone the IMarEST Annual Conference 2020 that was due to take place as a live, face to face event in late March.
Instead the IMarEST team have pulled out all the stops to deliver this conference as a flexible online event spread across a two-week period.
There will be multiple streams that will cover a wealth of topics in the marine realm.
Drawing from our Special Interest Groups, some of the key topics we will explore include: the challenges of decarbonisation, a shift to greener ways of operating, developments in the naval sector and the outlook for autonomous systems.
The delivery of presentations will be via various live formats such as webinars, interviews and panel discussions. This is going to be a novel and exciting way to give members an unrivalled opportunity to participate, learn and make new professional connections.
Technology is something you’re going to cover more in July’s President’s Day Lecture at the close of the Annual Conference. It seems like the only constant is change.
Yes I will be presenting the President’s lecture and I’ll be looking at what we can expect to see from both technology evolution and technology revolution in the maritime sector and this will help me set the stage for the debate on how we, as an engineering and science community, must change to realise the opportunity of what is expected to be a decade of rapid technological change.
How else can members join in with IMarEST learned events?
There are events almost weekly such as webinars, panels and lectures, but I want to highlight two lectures in particular that are coming up in the next two months.
As part of our Stanley Grey Lectures celebrating our Stanley Grey Awards, we have two outstanding topics to present to members.
In June, Becci Jewell, winner of the IMarEST David Henderson Inspiring Journey Grant, will give an overview of her journey following the migration of gray whales cycle from Alaska to Mexico.
Through meeting with scientists along her journey, Becci learned about ongoing studies of the whales’ biology and behaviour as well as the technology such as telemetry tags that reveal unexpected cross-ocean journeys, drones capturing fine-scale behaviours and satellite images allowing the whales to be counted from space.
In July, Nigel Hearne from Pen Test Partners, will walk us through how a cyber-attacker could abuse ship computer-based systems and human weaknesses to wreak havoc at sea. This is such a pertinent topic as more software is put onto ships and managing these systems has become a major headache to ship owners.
What do you think is the biggest thing we need to focus on aside from COVID-19?
We can’t escape the climate crisis and the momentum around that will come back again.
Sea level rises, pollution, microplastics and the IMO’s ambition to reduce emissions from the 2008 levels by 50% by 2050 hasn’t gone away.
It’s a truly global issue, with some parts of the world such as the low-lying South Pacific nations among the most directly affected due to sea level rises. They are very active in the drive to achieve those ambitions, as is the EU which is taking a pioneering approach to reduce emissions in its coastal areas and inland waterways.
That’s going to affect everything from ocean pollution measures to vessel design, sustainability, fuels, and much more.
Some countries are already taking a leadership role here. The Norwegian Shipowners' Association has just said its members will cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 50% per transported unit by 2030, compared to 2008 and only order vessels with zero emissions. That is just ten years from now.
Is there any upside to what’s going on right now?
The pandemic has seen pollution cut as a consequence of more people working from home, fewer cars on the road and less industry.
Air is cleaner, seas look clearer too – and that is a good thing to come out of a very serious situation. It shows what a more sustainable world could look like.