What Industry Leaders Say About the Future of Shipping and Maritime

What Industry Leaders Say About the Future of Shipping and Maritime

What are the main concerns, solutions, and trends for the shipping and maritime industries according to the experts?

Just like everything else, the maritime industry is constantly evolving. There are many factors that speed up this process, such as digital evolution, technological progress, environmental concerns, so forth and so on. It’s not easy to predict ‘the next big thing’ in the industry.

However, we can pay attention to the foremost experts of the industry (both individuals and corporations) to take a glance at what to expect from the future.


The future of the industry will be digital. No doubt. The digital evolution has been shaping the maritime industry for a while now and it will certainly continue to do so. Both onshore and offshore, shipping companies will have to digitalize their operations as much as possible in order to operate more efficiently and profitably.
The leaders of the industry place emphasis on digitalization so much that they will come together for the 16th edition of the Asia Pacific Maritime (APM) from 18 to 20 March 2020, with a conference that will gather over 50 industry top minds for a three-day, in-depth discussion on what the maritime industry could look like in 10 years.
On the other hand, Iorliam Simon Tersoo, the 30-year-old Maritime Safety Officer from Nigeria and the winner of the Future Maritime Leaders essay competition agrees that the industry needs to prepare the next generation of seafarers to a more digitalized future due to the automation of the maritime industry. According to him, the future will bring introduce us to the digital seafarers, who will sit ashore and take ships to sea and back safely, whilst carrying out the conventional functions of seafarers automatically and safely.

5G and unmanned vessels

5G technology will shape the future of the maritime industry as well. It will open up infinite possibilities. The experts say that the nearest benefits of this technology will be the utilization of smart drones for real-time monitoring, ship-shore communication for vessel traffic management, the use of Internet-of-Things sensors during search-and-rescue for real-time communications and accurate positioning, so forth and so on.
According to Kun Yang, who is the board chairman and project administrator of the world’s first maritime 5G communication project, “Maritime 5G will play an important role for the remote control of autonomous ships in the future.”

This brings us to automation, which also is the future of the industry. Technological progress brings us closer to the date when unmanned vessels will be the norm. Thanks to them, ships will be able to spend much more time at sea than human-controlled ones. Such innovation will enable increased productivity, reduces reliance on human resources and is less prone to human error.

Sanna Sonninen, Pilotage Director of Finnpilot Pilotage, says that the technology for autonomous ships and remote control of ship operations have already been developed and tested. However, for them to be the norm, there are still some issues that must be solved. Such as the public’s mixed sentiment and opinion on the subject.

Environmental Concerns

The environment is a big concern in the industry. As we all know, as of January 1, 2020, International Maritime Organization (IMO) member states are expected to fully implement the new global marine fuel sulfur cap. To know more details about it, you can check our article.
The latest regulation change is a part of a bigger plan. IMO’s main strategy is to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050 compared with 2008. This means that environmental concerns will continue to shape the industry as well.

The new era requires the actors of the industry to upgrade to a greener business while still making a profit. Therefore, it is now important for shipowners and operators to consider and adopt some new strategies such as installing scrubbers and switching to liquefied natural gas and other low sulfur fuels.

The regulations will also force shipbuilders to find solutions for building fast and efficient enough ships with less emission.