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87% of seafarers say training needed for handling new fuels

Jake Lester Bodegas, via the ITF Seafarers’ Trust Photography Competition A seafarer with their arm over a collagues shoulders on deck
A survey of over 500 seafarers found that nearly 87% said they would need training for new fuels such as ammonia, methanol and hydrogen.

The study entitled “The Future of Seafarers 2030: A Decade of Transformation” co-sponsored by DNV and Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) took the form of a literature review, expert consultations, and a survey of more than 500 seafarers operating dry bulk, container and tanker vessels. Over 70% of respondents had been in the industry over 11 years and two-thirds held the rank of officer.

The survey highlighted the need for training in handling alternative fuels for decarbonisation as well as digitalisation.

Almost 87% of respondents indicated a need for partial or complete training for emerging fuels such as ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen, while over 75% would require training to some degree for LNG, batteries, or synthetic fuel.

“Emerging fuels and new technologies could pose safety risks for assets and crews, if not handled properly. Therefore, we must focus on the human factor and adequately train seafarers who operate and maintain ship systems, including carrying out bunkering operations. As an industry, we have a responsibility to keep them safe and well prepared for all eventualities,” said Cristina Saenz de Santa Maria, Regional Manager South-East Asia, Pacific & India, DNV Maritime.

The report recommended that training could be prioritised for LNG and batteries as these fuels were likely to be the most prevalent alternative fuel option this decade.

A need for training for dealing with advanced digital technologies was also seen with 81% of respondents saying the need full or partial training in the further automation of equipment/systems, advanced sensors, artificial intelligence, and remote operations. Onlky 13% felt they were currently well trained.

Shore-based remote-control centres capable of remote operation of some ship functions received a luke-warm response with only 40% thing such centres would make their jobs easier.

“As industry transformation—spurred by digital innovation and fuel transition—picks up pace, we must prioritise the training and development of sea-going professionals, ensuring that they possess the technical competencies to safely operate the more advanced ships that are coming on stream,” said Tan Beng Tee, Executive Director of SMF.

“Digitalisation and decarbonisation could present opportunities to attract a younger generation of sea-going professionals, provided a pathway to sustainable career development is visible, transiting from sea to shore based careers.”