When viewed through a traditional lens, the very idea of a seafarer being required to list coding among his or her skill set may appear to be somewhat unnecessary. But like many sectors, the maritime industry is no stranger to digitalization and an increasing dependence on technology. Take multi-fuel propulsion systems and integrated bridge systems as an example - these complex tools and devices require a very specific knowledge when it comes their operation. Add to this the very nature of shipping, namely its dependency on its crew to resolve any issues onboard and it becomes clear that a seafarer who possesses technical know-how could be a very real asset to their vessel.

Ships are becoming more and more complex to operate: on-board systems not only need to be operated, but also maintained, and if needed, fixed. Having people onboard who can do that, whether or not they are directly responsible for resolving bugs and issues, will be a huge help particularly in the event of an emergency.

What programming languages could seafarers learn?

If a seafarer is interested in learning how to code, or if you’re a looking to hire a cadet or crew member who has talents that go above and beyond the traditional skills, which programming languages are the most useful onboard a ship?
Having a solid understanding of Javascript and Python would set a seafarer apart when it comes to maritime recruitment. A new recruit with this knowledge could be a valuable asset, although some shipping companies may decide to offer training in programming both for their new recruits and for established crew members.

Should learning how to code be mandatory for seafarers?

Of course, there is the counter argument that maybe a seafarer shouldn’t try to be a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. After all the skills needed to crew a ship are very specific ones and it could be argued that seafarers would be far better off concentrating on the skills they need to perform the tasks they are actually hired to do - not have to worry about adding programming to their resume.
If a seafarer already has those skills then that is all well and good - but should they really be diverting their attention from the job in hand to be learning new, often complex, technologies? Wouldn’t it be better to provide crew members with technology and software that assists them in their roles onboard, as opposed to forcing them to learn a subject they may have little to no interest or aptitude in?