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Full automation in sea navigation imperils deployment of merchant mariners to ships

Maritime forum

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While the advent of science and technology showed huge development to propel man’s economic and education strata, including sea navigation, the advent is also decking out a hurting effect on the employment of seafarers deployed and currently working on ships, both cargo and passengers worldwide, as automaton impact starts being felt in Europe today.

“It is known to the maritime world that automation in sea navigation is already in place, to which we must be prepared,”  said VAdm. Eduardo  Ma. R. Santos AFP (ret.), president of Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP)-PTGWO-ITF, during the 120th  maritime forum of the Philippines’ Maritime League held last March 31, 2017 at the academy’s Center for  Advanced Maritime Studies (CAMS) at  Kamaya Point, Alas-asin, Mariviles, Bataan.

MMaritime League Forum at MAAP – VAdm. Eduardo Ma. R.Santos AFP (ret.) (left), president of Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) explains to government brass and maritime industry stakeholders the effects of full automation of ships in sea navigation, during the 120th maritime forum of the Philippines’ Maritime League held on March 31, 2017 at the Center for Advanced Maritime Studies (CAMS) of MAAP in Kamaya Pont, Alas-asin, Mariveles, Bataan. Interacting are: Former national security adviser and Parañaque City Rep. Roilo S. Golez, League president Commodore Carlos L. Agustin and Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo N. Bataoil (3rd, 2nd and Ist from right). They were joined by League officials retired VAdm. Emilio Marayag Jr., Cdrs Gilbert Rueras, and Gualderio de la Cruz, maritime journalist-analyst Eulogio Malicse, League secretariat chair Rosalie Ricafort, MAAP administrator Capt. Gerlo Elchico, chief trainor Capt. Deoponce Tunacao, Prof. Aangelica Baylon, visiting nurse Ruth Buison, Cdr. Lawerence Ato Jr., ship management executive Atty. Peter Aguilar, Capt. Oscar Orbet, educator RAdm. Roberto Estioko, Cdr. Allan Corpuz, reresentatives from NAMRIA, PCG, NCWC, PPA, maritime law, health and oceanology expert groups.

Maritime League Forum at MAAP – VAdm. Eduardo Ma. R.Santos AFP (ret.) (left), president of Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) explains to government brass and maritime industry stakeholders the effects of full automation of ships in sea navigation, during the 120th maritime forum of the Philippines’ Maritime League held on March 31, 2017 at the Center for Advanced Maritime Studies (CAMS) of MAAP in Kamaya Pont, Alas-asin, Mariveles, Bataan. Interacting are: Former national security adviser and Parañaque City Rep. Roilo S. Golez, League president Commodore Carlos L. Agustin and Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo N. Bataoil (3rd, 2nd and Ist from right). They were joined by League officials retired VAdm. Emilio Marayag Jr., Cdrs Gilbert Rueras, and Gualderio de la Cruz, maritime journalist-analyst Eulogio Malicse, League secretariat chair Rosalie Ricafort, MAAP administrator Capt. Gerlo Elchico, chief trainor Capt. Deoponce Tunacao, Prof. Aangelica Baylon, visiting nurse Ruth Buison, Cdr. Lawerence Ato Jr., ship management executive Atty. Peter Aguilar, Capt. Oscar Orbet, educator RAdm. Roberto Estioko, Cdr. Allan Corpuz, reresentatives from NAMRIA, PCG, NCWC, PPA, maritime law, health and oceanology expert groups.

“Within the next 10 to 15 years, after full automation, reduction in the deployment of seafarers would be felt, and we see a big reduction on  demand in the number of crew.. Time may come thereafter, that seafarers would not be needed to man ships,” as remote control  or autonomous ships would be in place by then.”  Santos  said.

During the forum, Admiral Santos tasked Engr. Gerardo Ramon S. Galang, manager of MAAP’s Management Information and Instructional Technology Department (MIITD) to make a presentation on mechanics of operating autonomous ships. According to Galang, next generation modular systems and communications technology “will enable wireless monitoring and control  functions  both on and off board, that includes advanced decision support systems to autonomous control.”

The autonomy levels have been defined by the Lloyd’s Registry.

He said that for the remote control or autonomous ships to function, the operator “must” have the knowledge on Shore-based decision support systems; Shore control center operations; Cyberspace and Cybersecurity; Modern control systems (uprocessor-based Controller, PLC, DCS, SMART transmitters, Fieldbus technology); and Robotics and mechatronics.

Galang stressed that there is a need to revise maritime courses that would be relevant to skills essential  autonomous-classed  vessels; as well as maritime electricity courses that o would be relevant to mechanisms, and precision movements of robots.

According to the MAAP expert, course revisions have been implemented since November, 2016, and the introduction of a Robotics and Autonomous Ships Course will be implemented by June  this year (2017),  while major  Robotics and Autonomous Ships operations  will be implemented by June, 2018. Within the next  10 to 15 years, he said, remote control operations of vessels for coastal  voyages   would be in place in Europe. Galang pointed out there is a need for “proper”  maritime education and training, for without it, rapid de-skilling of  maritime officers and crew will occur, so “we must  produce graduates who will remain competent in the technologies adopted by the industry, stressing it’s about time for IMO (Inernational Maiime Organization) to change regulations attuned to the new automation advent. He however, said, autonomous  ships do not necessarily mean zero seafarers, but probably reduced crew.

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