Maritime Technology: Future Challenges and Developments

With the increasing introduction of these novel technologies that are complex and not strictly bound to the physical ship, the time has come for the marine sector to embrace them and speed up their implementation and cooperation in the engineering system ship.


By George Kapetanis

Although a lot of research activity is dedicated to the evacuation procedures of passenger ships the problem still remains. It has a lot of parameters from different scientific disciplines and the technology alone cannot cope with everything. However, the initial step of identifying critical parameters and bottlenecks is important in defining future tasks and challenges, the major one being as already mentioned the steadily increasing size and capacity of cruise vessels. Thousands of people in an emergency should quickly move through different decks and zones of the vessel under panic. In such a situation a holistic approach is required, where solutions don’t focus only on technical improvements but consider also personal necessities, demographics and needs of the different passenger groups.

Technological improved LSA are on the market but it should be kept in mind that the efficiency of the LSA can become reduced under unfavorable list, trim and fire conditions or even suffer from restricted access under critical conditions of operation. In the literature there is the belief that improvements should be made regarding passengers’ demographics. Demographic parameters such as age need to be more adequately addressed in order to decrease the mustering and evacuation times. The layout of each deck and the overall ergonomics of the ship also pose a challenge in terms of the overall evacuation efficiency. As often stressed in this course, the implementation of new technologies in the maritime sector needs time.

Especially in safety and even more in passenger shipping, the new technologies should be extremely tested to ascertain the maturity durability and safety level that should be at least equal or better surpass the existing systems. The desired outcome is apparently with the implementation of advanced systems to minimize evacuation time and thus keep up with vessels technological advancements and increasing passenger capacity. However, it is important to be aware of the potential complexity this may add to the whole system. On the one hand advanced systems are sought, but on the other these systems should be as simple as possible in their operation and allow for deskilled functioning. This would be a big plus for their adoption due to the passengers that are not familiar with LSA. Finally, advanced decision support and crisis management systems can greatly contribute to take the right decisions at the right time and show the way in an emergency. Web based systems open new possibilities for online connections to shore facilities and parallel applications like damage stability calculations, that allow the captain to have the full picture of the development of the incident on his ship. And at last, there are several emerging technologies for personalized routes and indoor localization techniques. They are still at research level with major drawbacks being, that old people don’t use such gadgets especially in a panic situation and that the signal is impaired by metallic objects.