MARITIME EDUCATION IN THE AGE OF AUTONOMY
Free (open access)
221 - 230
ROBERT KIDD, ELIZABETH MCCARTHY
Increased autonomy is inevitable aboard ships, and educators need to be preparing the mariners of the future for this eventuality. This paper will provide a brief overview of current and projected shipboard autonomy, incorporating views of unmanned vehicle researchers and licensed mariners, from 3rd mates and 3rd engineers to masters and chief engineers. From this background, projections about how the deck and engine officer roles are expected to change in the coming years will be presented. Understanding the future of these officers is critical to equipping our current students to be successful and relevant throughout the length of their careers. For example, a fully autonomous vessel, one that does not need human feedback, would be able to navigate and make decisions on its own, but may still need crew onboard to perform maintenance tasks and repairs. While a bridge crew may not be required while underway, deck officers will be needed to develop and improve the algorithms behind the autonomy. Additionally, a bridge crew would need to be available if the situation becomes too chaotic for the autonomy to navigate safely. Engine officers on the vessel will need to be able to troubleshoot and repair not only the mechanical components of the vessel but also the components that serve as the brain of the vessel. In both cases, the crew will need additional training to appropriately prepare them. This is just one potential configuration for a vessel. For other configurations, such as an unmanned vessel controlled from a shore-based control center, different skill sets will be required. However, between all of these, unifying concepts can be extracted, such as the ability to code. Identifying these now will allow maritime institutions to develop foundational courses which can be built upon as the requirements for future mariners become clear.
future education, autonomous vessels, deck, engine, officer training