Revolutionary designs, environmental emergencies and urgent skills shortages – what are the most pressing issues for industry leaders in the coming year?
From January 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will ban ships from using fuels with a sulphur content above 0.5%, a reduction from 3.5% in 2019. Detaining boats, imposing large fines and imposing prison sentences will encourage ship builders and owners to switch from low-grade fuels to new greener options like liquefied natural gas (LNG). The 2020 IMO ruling will see the industry reduce air pollution, improve health and safety conditions for Maritime workers and limit damage to the ocean’s ecosystem.
The world creates 300 million tonnes of waste plastic every year, of which nearly 9million tonnes ends up in the sea – experts predict that in 25 years, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. Raising awareness of plastic in the ocean will be a key theme for the sector in 2020. The European Commission project CLAIM (Cleaning marine Litter by developing and Applying Innovative Methods) will will use new technologies to tackle the problem in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas, including the introduction of new decides which preventing litter from entering the water, and equipment to collect and degrade microplastics to minimise the amount of plastic ingested by sea creatures.
With 40% of American citizens at risk from flooding, water-related natural disasters and life-threatening pollution, Marine sustainability will also be an increasing concern for North America. US Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren recently released a ‘Blue New Deal’ proposal to revolutionise environmental policy in the States. The new deal aims to protect and restore sea habitats through financial investments in cleaner technology like offshore wind, expanding sealife protection areas, limiting use of fossil fuels, introducing electric ports to reduce air pollution, climate ready fisheries and offshore renewable energy.
The European luxury yacht market is expected to enjoy a CAGR of 12% between 2020 and 2027. Advances in technology and engineering are enabling designers and manufacturers to innovate like never before, resulting in predictions of continuous growth and prosperity for yachting businesses.
Sea tourism is predicted to grow globally, with cruise ships becoming increasingly popular in the coming years. The launch of new expedition boats such as the Coral Geographer and Quark Ultramarine aim to provide greater levels of enjoyment and luxury with relaxing and adventure activities, whilst saving fuel and reducing emissions.
The international shipping industry is predicted to face numerous challenges following the introduction of the new IMO environmental regulations. Experts warn of a rise in freight rates and disruption to trade and build, due to fuel restrictions and other issues in adapting engines to short time frames.
International politics could have wide-reaching effect on the sector in 2020. In the second half of 2019, UK and US armed forces were deployed to Iran in the interest of ‘protecting ships and ensuring smooth trade’ amid high political tension. In December 2019 the American Government imposed sanctions on Iran’s biggest shipping company and largest airline for ‘allegedly helping Tehran develop ballistic missiles in contravention of UN sanctions’. International tensions or military action between Iran and the United States could pose significant threats to safety, increase insurance costs and reduce traffic and profit.
Regardless of the type of Brexit deal to find success with the EU, the British Maritime sector is likely to sustain a notable impact as over 40% of its UK exports are transported to countries in Europe. Head of British Marine Lesley Robinson advises, ‘If there was no suitable immigration agreement, that really could impact the after-sales market of service and repair and harm our access to skilled labour.’
A No Deal or Hard Brexit could spell confusion, inefficiencies and talent pool shortages for UK-based Marine businesses. As EU citizens represent up to 20% of staff at many Marine suppliers operating in the UK, the industry will be formulating long-term plans to retain EU workers and continue to access the EU skills market. However, Brexit could give the British shipping industry freedom from numerous restraints of current EU law, potentially transforming the UK’s position in British and global Maritime law.
Many engineering innovations such as Sea Bins and Electric Ports are already being introduced around the world to marry technological advancement with environmental protection goals.
AI and autonomous technology will be a prominent feature in 2020:
· Electric Ships – The Yara Birkeland is the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container ship. The innovative new vessel, which will launch in 2020, was brought together by Japanese Yara and Norwegian Kongsberg with the aim of reducing emissions by replacing 40,000 truck journeys every year.
· Smart Ports – In the coming year autonomous vessels will start to communicate with smart ports, sharing data which can be analysed for greater optimisation, and a significant reduction in human error which some estimate at 75-96% of cases. An interesting potential side effect of the elimination of human workers onboard is the reduction of piracy, as there would be no crew to take hostage for leverage.
· One Sea – The One Sea project is developing the world’s first system of autonomous ships. This complex ecosystem represents a global mission to create completely autonomous commercial Maritime traffic by 2025 and will see fully remote-controlled boats begin to emerge in the Baltic Sea from 2020.
The Maritime sector will likely see autonomous haulers in the next ten years. Fewer human workers would mean less weight, delivering greater fuel efficiency and increasing cargo capacity. By removing crew costs, shipping companies could save as much as 30% of voyage costs.
2020 will see world-renowned favourites in the yacht racing world back for another round of exciting competitions, including:
· America’s Cup – The three-event America’s Cup World Series has been confirmed by the Defender and the Challenger of Record, with teams racing their AC75 class yachts across Italy, England, and New Zealand in 2020. Portsmouth and Auckland have recently been named as hosts to next year’s event.
· Rolex China Sea Race – The 30th edition will welcome a greater number challenges internationally than ever before, with the US, Japan, Russia and the Philippines confirmed to compete. Next year will see a variety of seasoned winners and podium finishers sail for the top spot in what is sure to be a hotly contested race.
· RORC Caribbean 600 – The 12th edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's RORC Caribbean 600 will welcome back friendly faces and new competition at its start in Antigua. Entered and awaiting class clarification is one of the most famous round the world racing yachts, Farr 58 Maiden, which made history in 1989 as the first all-female crew to sail around the world in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, coming second overall. Could 2020 be a record-breaking year for Maiden once again?
In a rapidly growing industry, Marine leaders will face increased competition to recruit and retain skilled engineers, technicians and other staff in 2020. Experts at the Ocean Policy Research Foundation predict a shortage of 150,000 officers by 2025 and over 350,000 seafarers by 2050.
Utilising social media and expanding digital presence can help executives and hiring managers reach younger generations of potential talent. Drive awareness of exciting career paths and engage Gen Z with videos of boat shows, new designs and yacht races to attract young workforces into the industry.
Partnering with an industry-specialist recruitment agency will provide direct access to broad networks of skilled engineers. Recruiters with former practitioner expertise will understand the requirements and complexities of roles from design and build to fuel consumption and data analysis, and can effectively source, match and manage seasoned engineers and potential new talent.
With so much change ahead, how can boat builders, yacht designers and suppliers prepare for the coming years?
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