Autonomous service vessels

Day rates for the smallest and largest service vessels range from $8k-26k.[1]  While autonomous vessels are estimated to reduce fuel consumption by 6%, an autonomous-unmanned vessel can both reduce construction costs by 5%, as accommodations are removed, and increase a vessel’s operational efficiency by 42% by cutting crew costs.[2] Furthermore, as 75-96% of all marine accidents are attributed to human error, amounting to $1.6bn in 2018, unmanned vessels can improve safety and reduce casualties.[3,4]

Equipped with sensors, auxiliary systems, automated navigation, and the decision logic to follow and adjust mission plans, technology has made great progress towards the realization of this opportunity.[5] The concept has seen an acceleration globally, primarily pushed forward by governments and has the potential to redefine the maritime industry and the role of its current players.[5,6] However, the concept may create new risks regarding cybersecurity and unknown costs may arise.[6]

Pilot projects of unmanned-autonomous vessels are already in progress across maritime segments in the North Sea, but when unmanned service supply vessels will become accepted practice remains an open question.

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[1] Workboat, (2017), 2017 Day Rates
[2] Simonsen Vogt Wiig, (2018), A reality check for autonomous shipping in 2018
[3] Allianz Press Release, (2018), Shipping losses continue to fall but new cyber and climate risks and perennial human error problem threaten safety progress
[4] United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, (2018), Legal Issues and Regulatory Developments
[5] American Bureau of Shipping, (2020), Future Ready: Advancing from Automated to Autonomous Shipping
[6] Jokioinen, E., et al., (2016), Remote and Autonomous Ships: The Next Steps
More Information:
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, (2017), Review of Maritime Transport: 2017
One Earth Future, 2010), The Economic Cost of Maritime Piracy
World Maritime News, (2018), COSCO Shipping Lines Falls Victim to Cyber Attack
Ship Technology (2020), Hronn Autonomous Offshore Support Vessel

By Matthew J. Spaniol