Innovation at sea – change is the new normal
(Ingress): Gone are the days when the captain used physical maps to plan the voyage. Adaptability to new technologies is amongst the most important skills for the modern seafarer.
“The internet, for sure!” Master Stein Taraldsen and 1st Engineer Marcin Szczesniak reply without any delay when being asked what they consider the most game-changing new technology on board since they first started their careers at sea in respectively 1977 and 2003.
They work on two of the most technologically advanced vessels within the shuttle tanker fleet - Marcin on Eagle Bergen and Stein on Eagle Barents. Technology has over the last few decades allowed for safer and smoother operations and has made it far easier to keep in touch with family and friends at home.
Better life on board
Stein considers the implementation of dynamic positioning systems the technology that has affected him the most professionally. Since his first onboarding he has experienced the transition from conventional voyage planning to navigation by use of advanced equipment and technologies.
“I’ve seen tremendous improvement in systems and equipment. When I first signed on at the age of 16, close to everything was done in the old-fashioned manner. We used radiotelephones and physical maps", he says with a smile.
The modern seafarer must adapt to increasing innovation rate in a world where change has become the new normal. Marcin could talk for hours on how his life on board has become easier thanks to technology.
“Take the performance tests as one example. Nowadays we have electronic systems that can test the engine more easily and effectively. It saves me time. A performance test used to take four hours, now I can run the test from the engine control room, which is also a better way when considering safety,” Marcin says.
The future seafarer
Both Marcin and Stein stress the importance of being open to change. The experienced seafarers predict that willingness to learn and adaptability will be increasingly important as mindset for young people eager to pursuit a career at sea. They don’t necessarily see autonomous vessels as a big threat quite yet.
“It’s fascinating to see the speed of innovation and the development of automation technology, but I’m convinced that it will take longer than expected, at least for tankers, Stein says.
“Seafarers will have to continue to be openminded and willing to learn new technologies,” Marcin concludes.