Upskilling Seafarers for Decarbonisation and Digitalisation: Insights from DNV and Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) Study


The maritime industry is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by the global imperatives of decarbonisation and digitalisation. As the industry moves towards a greener and more digitally connected future, the need for skilled seafarers who can adapt to the changing landscape is more important than ever. To gain a better understanding of these upskilling needs, Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) have conducted a comprehensive study on the subject. This post will delve into the key findings of the study and discuss the implications for the maritime workforce and the industry.

Key Findings of the DNV and SMF Study

1. Decarbonisation Skills

As the maritime industry transitions to low and zero-carbon fuels, seafarers will need to understand the properties and handling of alternative fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), biofuels, hydrogen, and ammonia. The DNV and SMF study found that seafarers require knowledge of the technical aspects of these fuels, as well as the associated safety and environmental regulations.

Additionally, seafarers need to be proficient in the operation and maintenance of new propulsion technologies, such as batteries, fuel cells, and hybrid systems. This includes understanding the principles of energy management and being able to optimize the performance of these systems. They should be familiar with the processes, instrumentation , equipment and develop hands on skills in working on these systems.

2. Digitalisation Skills

The study also found that digitalisation is a key area where seafarers need to upskill. This includes proficiency in handling advanced navigation and communication systems, as well as the ability to interpret and act upon the vast amounts of data generated by modern vessels.

Furthermore, the rise of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in the maritime industry necessitates seafarers to acquire skills in the operation and maintenance of these technologies. This will involve understanding the principles of AI, machine learning, and robotics, as well as the ability to troubleshoot and repair these systems.

3. Soft Skills

In addition to technical knowledge, the study highlighted the importance of soft skills in the changing maritime landscape. As new technologies and processes are implemented, seafarers will need to be adaptable, able to work in diverse teams, and possess strong communication and problem-solving abilities.

The DNV and SMF study underscores the need for targeted training and education initiatives to ensure that seafarers are equipped with the necessary skills to thrive in the evolving maritime industry. This includes investing in dedicated training facilities, such as maritime simulation centers and specialized workshops, where seafarers can gain hands-on experience working with new technologies and processes.

Moreover, the study suggests that ongoing professional development should be a priority for both employers and seafarers. This may involve the implementation of continuous learning programs, as well as encouraging seafarers to seek out additional certifications and qualifications in relevant areas.

Finally, the study calls for greater collaboration between industry stakeholders, including shipping companies, educational institutions, and government bodies, to develop and implement comprehensive upskilling strategies. By working together, these stakeholders can ensure that the training and education initiatives are aligned with the industry's needs and prepare seafarers for the challenges of tomorrow.

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