Bringing Maritime Training into the 21st century: How to upskill an inexperienced Crew

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Image used for representational purposes only (Image Courtesy: Orca AI)

By Yarden Gross, CEO & Co-Founder of Orca AI

Yarden Gross

There is no doubt that industries worldwide have been forced to quickly adapt to the pandemic world in different ways, and the continuing of steady development is key to ensuring an effective return to business. The shipping industry, however, is infamous for its aversion to pushing the boundaries and modernising, and now is the time to change.

Maritime crews are still working to combat the fallout caused by the Ever Given blockage in the Suez Canal in March, with the backlog of deliveries requiring inexperienced crew members to be brought in to supplement. With the relief of crew being difficult, and extended time on ships leading to mentally and physically fatigued members, the need to rapidly change the approach towards training crews is evident.

Through recent years, and particularly during the pandemic, new technologies such as AI have been adopted in sectors previously reluctant to develop. With studies showing that human error and crews struggling to navigate vessels directly contributes towards 75 – 96% of maritime incidents, it is clear that the maritime industry could benefit from these technologies.

Reducing the risk of human errors is a clear aim that the industry should consider. With 90% of maritime collisions occurring in congested waterways, and teams rapidly introducing new members to meet demand, incidents are increasingly likely to be down to an inexperienced crew member’s decisions. These incidents, however, can easily be reduced, if the industry were to adopt AI algorithms and technology.

New technologies are readily available to aid these less experienced crews in dealing with more complex and stressful situations, such as low visibility. AI is a great asset to any crew, no matter how experienced, as it can analyse huge amounts of raw data to uncover unseen targets, removing the need for traditional statistical methods which can be time consuming and reliant on human accuracy.

An example of where AI could benefit these types of crews is with onboard navigation sensors and high resolution cameras with computer vision capabilities, such as Orca AI. These systems can allow those who are more inexperienced to better monitor their surroundings and make more informed decisions at a moment’s notice.

AI platforms can provide these types of invaluable insights into a ships’ pattern of behaviour and risk profile. Rather than completing rigorous training, or hanging around for the perfect candidates, these technologies can allow inexperienced crew members to improve their handling of potential future incidents, as well as sharing the data with insurers to allow accurate assessments of risk profiles.

Even more experienced individuals, such as captains, co-captains and navigational officers, can benefit from the implementation of AI technology. Their roles are often extremely complex, requiring a balance of constantly calculating potential situations, checking navigational instruments and watching the route ahead. With the amount of accuracy needed, there is no surprise that there can often be human errors, even amongst the most experienced.

AI, therefore, is a great asset and can aid in making all roles easier, no matter how difficult the indeterminable conditions are. Thermal imaging cameras and AI powered visual support systems, for example, provide instant feedback, helping crew members and captains alike by providing all data required to give a complete understanding of what is needed from them at any given time.

It’s important to note, however, that AI is not going to completely replace crews and captains any time soon, but instead aid them to provide more precise work and help make their lives that little bit easier. AI can allow for large groups of inexperienced crew members to be brought in to work effectively through a rush, such as seen post-Ever Given.

The pandemic has been a great accelerator for technology adoption in many industries across the world. We are increasingly approaching an intelligent future, where ships need to catch up, adopting AI to aid in making instant precise decisions based on a wide range of data. But, for now, crews should look to augment this technology to help upskill those lesser experienced individuals, allowing for accurate and efficient running of business, no matter the demand.

Sea News Feature, July 30

Baibhav Mishra
Author: Baibhav Mishra

Associate Editor, Sea News