ICS Study Assesses Impact of Automation


The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has released a new study conducted by the Hamburg School of Business Administration, regarding the potential effects of autonomous ships on the role of seafarers and the global shipping industry.

With over 1.6 million seafarers currently estimated to serve on merchant ships trading internationally, ICS has asserted that the impact of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) requires thorough consideration.

The study also includes an assessment of the risks and opportunities created by digitalization in global logistics chains and ship operations.

Eduard Musalf discusses safety in automation in a recent Port Technology technical paper

According to a statement by ICS, the role of personnel on board and ashore will need to be redefined both operationally and legally as a result of technological developments.

Reviewing and understanding how these roles may evolve is also identified as an important aspect to assess and address the impact of autonomous ships on the role of seafarers.

Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General, commented: “The two-year IMO regulatory scoping exercise for MASS is now well underway to determine how existing IMO instruments can be leveraged to ensure that autonomous ships are safe, secure, and environmentally sound.”



“This a complex task, expected to impact several areas under IMO’s purview, and while it is recognised that clear opportunities might arise for the shipping industry which may not exist today, much more work must be done.” 

Platten also provided reassurance to seafarers: “Encouragingly, the study indicates that there will be no shortage of jobs for seafarers, especially officers, in the next two decades.

“While the size of crews may evolve in response to technological changes on board, there may also be considerable additional jobs ashore which require seafaring experience.”

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