How is the digital transformation of the maritime industry influencing the crewing sector? Is the development of autonomous ships leading to a reduced number of marine personnel?

Prof. Dr. Max Johns recently published a paper on “Seafarers and digital disruption" discussing newly established technologies as being a seamless transformation process, rather than a disruptive one. A key finding was that there is no reason to fear the loss of jobs, however embrace the opportunity for specialized seafarers will likely be required. Prof. Dr. Max Johns also discusses the legal requirements that will need to be reviewed to create an autonomous ship where seafarers are concerned, questioning the implementation of an autonomous crew.

A clear objective is to discuss the change in defining a "seafarer" and if the digitalization of this industry in fact impacts this definition.

"If companies with a legacy of seafarers in well-established roles consider a disruptive approach, they will have to redefine roles, communicate, train and re-train their employees. They will also have to carefully compare the commercial viability of technically disruptive projects"

The paper is in line with Martide's view, stating that a digital transformation tool is not threatening, but purely supporting the crewing sectors activity to be more efficient. According to the paper, the Boston Consulting Group developed a framework for shipping companies to embrace digitalization.

“A strong digital foundation across the organization... to attract the right digital talent in shipping to help keep the business growing and running more efficiently” (BCG 2018), has to be more emphasized and implemented.

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