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Live from CMA Shipping

The rise of AI: ‘Shipowners will not reveal their secrets to machines’

Photo: Seatrade Maritime Commodore debate at CMA Shipping 2024
Shipowners and the first broker to become CMA Commodore looked ahead at the impact of technology on the maritime industry in the 2024 CMA Shipping Commodore debate.

The conversation quickly turned to the potential impact of AI on shipping, a technology Lois Zabrocky, CEO at International Seaways, Inc. expects will affect ships before shoreside operations. 

“We're doing a trial on a couple of our ships with some AI technology. The first use that we're finding is that it's actually super helpful for the captain and for the crew on board moreso than for the office,” said Zabrocky. 

She recalled a recent incident where an engineer in the office saw that there was a man down in the pump room and contacted the ship in a panic only to be told that an AI system onboard was being trained to identify safety issues on board the ship.

Morten Arntzen, Executive Chairman, Team Tankers International, recalled a tanker pool into which his company placed 37 tankers, putting faith in the $10m investment the pool was making each year into an AI platform to support commercial management of its vessels. “Every quarter, we compared our pool against Torm, Hafnia and Norden, who did things the way Mike [Tusiani] does, hiring the best people to trade the ships. Unfortunately Torm, Norden, and Hafnia consistently outperformed over three years.

“So, we’re still investing in the AI, but I would still rather invest in really good people who are going to be successful,” said Arntzen.

Ahead of his crowning - or hatting - as 2024 Commodore, Michael Tusiani, Chairman Emeritus at Poten & Partners shared his expectations on AI in shipbroking.

“I think AI is going to be adding value to shareholders, there's no question about it. As far as for the brokers community, I remind everyone of Wave. Everybody said ‘Oh, brokers are going to be wiped out, everything is going to be done electronically.’ It never happened because it's a people business. People, especially shipowners, will not reveal their secrets to a machine,” said Tusiani.

The competition between shipowners and the people-centric nature of the business will keep shipbrokers in business, “AI won't affect that,” he said.

Lorenzo d'Amico, Insurance Group Director at d'Amico Group said “I think we shouldn't be afraid or concerned about the AI actually, I think it's going to be a great opportunity for all of the shipping industry. We have many challenges, and I'm sure that most of these challenges can be answered, and thanks to generative AI, in a faster way.”

John Hadjipateras, Chairman, Dorian LPG, said: “Now we're looking at an infinite manipulation capability of an infinite amount of data and we're in the process of trying to put this into a useful format that will give us actionable information, and in the future of course, you've got the Large Language Model potential… every step of the way we are improving efficiency, we're improving our ability to operate with, with a lower carbon footprint.

“I don't see [AI] as a big game changer, I see it as a continuing game,” said Hadjipateras.