2020, as we know, has been a difficult year for many people working in maritime, as the world faced one of the greatest global public health challenges of modern times.
Seafarers have been particularly affected, with many stranded far from home for months. The cruise industry stalled after the coronavirus outbreak on the Diamond Princess in February.
Yet there is an upside, and cause for optimism. We’ve embraced working online. Innovation across many sectors has been remarkable. Remote surveys have increased – in August DNVGL reported a 33 per cent uplift – drones have started to come into their own, and many of us have had to learn skills which will serve us well in future.
During 2020, Marine Professional re-launched the e-newsletter programme, introducing a new series to focus on trends, maritime incidents and the latest from the IMarEST community, plus a long read feature on key topics in the sector.
We’ve covered everything from Navy innovations to shipping trends, maritime history and marine science, to cyber risks and shared learnings from maritime incidents in our ever-popular Troublespot – and much more.
With so many to choose from, we bring you some of the best and most popular articles from 2020.
Laura Tervit, Digital Editor, Marine Professional
NavyX turbocharges Royal Navy capabilities
The crewless Pacific 24 (Credit: BAE Systems)
Global Navies are undoubtedly at the forefront of innovation and the article on NavyX, the Royal Navy’s new £75m (US$100m) autonomy and lethality accelerator programme, was one of our top three most popular this year.
In partnership with BAE Systems, the UK senior service is investing £3.2 million (US$4.1m) in a research programme to test the autonomous capabilities of an upgraded Pacific 24 (P24) Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), to assess how it might be used, operating from future classes of warships, to execute its own missions.
The autonomous P24 trials are just one part of NavyX, the specialist wing working closely with industry and academia to rapidly develop and trial cutting-edge technologies for use above, on, and below the waterline. NavyX is also using the budget to develop a fleet of autonomous mine-hunters.
The US Navy’s technological capabilities have been boosted by continual funding from the Pentagon. Its most-advanced vessel is the new USS South Dakota – a Virginia-class nuclear-powered, fast-attack stealth submarine, costing $2.6 billion.
Suez proves too costly for some as ships take long way round the Cape
Many ships are avoiding the Suez Canal (Credit: Shutterstock)
The fuel price crash saw some carriers take the longer, slower route round the Cape to avoid hefty Suez Canal fees and manage costs to offset a financially-difficult drop in cargoes.
It was, wrote shipping journalist Charlie Bartlett, a “move [that] added more than 3,000 nautical miles to the voyage, but the dodging of Canal fees easily offset the cost of bunker fuel.”
Yet thinking in purely economic terms didn’t factor in increased emissions with some ships estimated to use an extra 1,000 tonnes of fuel and add days onto journey times.
But the picture was more complex, with lines facing harsh economics, environmental concerns and seafarer welfare issues at a time when container shipping was already facing tough challenges.
Challenging times in Hong Kong for MV Artemis
"We knew the slightest mistake would be disastrous," said Peter Gibbins
Retired chief engineer Peter Gibbins wrote on his experiences of the golden age of marine engineering. He recalled a daunting overnight turnaround in Hong Kong in 2010 that pushed his cruise ship MV Artemis’ technical team to the very limit.
Refitting in a tight space in challenging conditions turned into a memorable night and an extremely rewarding experience for the crew.
What caused Pacific fishing vessels to collide?
American Eagle approaching berth in Pago Pago after the collision (Source: American Eagle Fishing, LLC)
This Troublespot was one of our most popular this year.
Two US-registered fishing vessels chasing tuna out of Pago Pago, the American Eagle and Koorale collided – with the bow of the larger American Eagle crushing the smaller Koorale’s wheelhouse and leading to a $20m damages claim.
The drama was captured on CCTV and can be seen on YouTube.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the likely cause of the collision was that both captains and fishmasters did not abide by international collision regulations or communicate adequately while pursuing the school of fish.
Deepwater Horizon 10 years on: BP’s Gulf of Mexico science legacy
It is ten years since the deepwater Macondo wildcat in the Gulf of Mexico suffered a blowout, killing 11 workers, injuring 17 others and leading to destruction of the high-tech Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible drilling rig.
A decade on from the largest oil spill in US history, there is a positive legacy.
As part of its reparation agreement, BP agreed to fund a scientific stimulus package of US$500 million that is still yielding results today – and even being used to help inform responses to the economic fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Member Q&A: Steve Lister on a ‘lifelong passion for ship repair’
Utterly inspiring, Steve Lister shared his experiences of decades of dedication to ship repair and his key role as Fleet Manager for Anzac Class Frigates which led to a New Zealand Defence Force Commendation this year.
Based at RNZN Naval Base, Devonport, Auckland, NZ, and responsible for the RNZN’s two Anzac-Class Frigates, HMNZS Te Kaha and HMNZS Te Mana, Steve shared his career highlights, best advice and plans for the future.
Seven takeaways from the Annual Conference 2020
Kevin J Reynolds and Marcie Merksamer, leading members of the Ballast Water Expert Group
Last but certainly not least, the IMarEST Annual Conference went virtual this year, making the event a truly global one. Our Seven takeaways from the Annual Conference 2020 highlighted how unmanned vessels are revolutionising surveying, the need for mental health improvements for seafarers, and called for action on climate change, and much more.
Ballast was a popular topic, which is understandable given its importance to shipping with new regulations coming into force. Marcie Merksamer from EnviroMangement shared her insights on where companies are failing compliance, while Kevin Reynolds explained it’s “absolutely critical” that companies have a ballast management plan in place.
Marcie and Kevin, leading members of the Ballast Water Expert Group which regularly gives guidance to the industry and the IMO, brought us up to date on the need for clearer ballast guidelines in December.