Ship design developments and impact on PH shipping


At the Tripartite Shipbuilding Forum in Nantong, China, last November, attendees arrived at an agenda on tweaking ship designs to address climate problems and counter cybersecurity problems. The changes this agenda offers may impact the Philippine shipping industry.

Attendees reached several agreements to redo current ship designs and to make shipping companies adapt to the demands of technological challenges and climate issues.

Also, cybersecurity concerns, conventions on carbon dioxide emissions, and the importance of ship safety procedures became top priorities.

Navigational Watch Officer-in-Charge Aldreen Dotimas agreed with what the Tripartite settled on, saying “we have to [exert]more efforts to make the shipping industry, and the ship itself, [become]more environmentally friendly and…energy efficient.”

Angelo Joseph Silvano, a data processor for Wallem Maritime Services Inc., believed what was discussed at the forum would positively impact the industry. He said the Tripartite had allowed shipowners’ associations to look into the future of a shipping industry with different and more technological innovations that would enable it to meet climate goals.

A shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. PIXABAY PHOTO

For 4th Engineer Phil Christian Arevalo, such progress is good. He said it was a good idea to change a ship’s design, especially its accommodations.

“Safety and security parameters must be given more attention,” he added in Filipino.

Cybersecurity issues
In this age of rapid technological advances, the growing threat of cyberattacks against ship systems are worrying shipping players. The attendees decided that the industry needed to embrace new ways of enhancing ship security by creating more secure and efficient vessels.

Fourth Eng. Adam Sucalit believes strengthening cybersecurity measures would be helpful. However, the Philippines may encounter challenges. Clint Abellana, a cadet on duty on a 15-year-old ship, believes the local shipping scenario may be lagging, noting that facilities are not too high-tech.

When technology is upgraded, some seafarers tend to “not work well, because of [their overconfidence in]the high-technology equipment,” which may lead to risk, he added.

These imply that training is also needed for Philippine ships to become accustomed to trials at sea.

CO2 emissions
The forum attendees saw that new and innovative designs for ships and related equipment are needed. To make this happen, they recognized that everyone involved must use every available resource.

These were planned to ensure that the industry would comply with CO2 reduction protocols mandated by the Paris Agreement and with the aims to be set up by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Sucalit said the release of both “SOX [and]NOX [are]being minimized nowadays, because of engine design.” This indicates that the Tripartite’s CO2-related goals are attainable.

He added, however, that such actions may still go further, saying that “if the release [of these]gasses would be [trimmed further], it would [help]in [attaining]climate goals.”

For Silvano, the research and development sector may play an important role, while Dotimas encouraged fellow seafarers to be more vocal within their organizations on what they think would work best for the ships and the environment.

Possible downsides
The points made at the forum may also be opposed. The importance of seafarers’ security and the ships they work in were part of the event’s main agendas. In relation to this, possible concerns over the new rules combating CO2 emissions have been laid out by the International Chamber of Shipping, which said the new guidelines may compromise the safety of shipping operations.

Arevalo, though, said crew members also had a responsibility in upholding a culture of safety.

“Ship-related disasters can never be absolutely prevented; the quality of the work of crew members can still be improved,” he said in Filipino.

Dotimas thinks one effect of making ships more technologically advanced and environmentally friendly is that it would involve drastically changing ship designs and apparatuses. This may result in the loss of jobs, particularly if a technologically sophisticated ship only needs fewer personnel.

For Sucalit, he sees the loss of ships in the process as a possible “downfall” for seafarers and shipping companies, as they might “be affected occupationally.”

Hopes and hurdles
Sucalit believes that adopting these changes is possible, while Arevalo said the government encouraging the local shipping industry to build more ships can be a good start. For Dotimas, he believes that “authorities must impose considerable fines to encourage companies and seafarers to abide [by]the law.”

At the end of the day, change must start from the bottom.

“Be disciplined and honest with [your]work. Avoid prioritizing personal interests and think of contributing to the betterment of the shipping industry,” Arevalo advised seafarers in Filipino.



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