Wie een loods interviewt doet dat niet thuis aan de keukentafel maar aan boord van een zeeschip. Voorzitter Joost Mulder van de Nederlandse Loodscorporatie stemde toe in een interview met loods Frans Sanderse aan boord van de Deense chemicaliëntanker Ternvind. Met een tender, een snelle motorboot van het Loodswezen, werd onze verslaggever meegenomen om 20 kilometer buitengaats op volle zee via een touwladder aan boord te klimmen. Gelukkig was het stormvrij weer met een redelijk kalme zee. Maar het puntje van Joops neus was eerder groen dan rood. Het werd een mooie interessante en leerzame dag waarbij de Botlek- en Spijkenisserbrug nu eens vóór Joop opengingen.
door Joop van der Hor
Voor Frans Sanderse (48) uit Nissewaard-Hekelingen ging een jongensdroom in vervulling toen, na een interne opleiding van een jaar, zijn aanstelling tot loods bij het Loodswezen op de deurmat plofte. De in Vlissingen geboren Frans stapte daarmee in de voetsporen van zijn vader. Hij geniet van elke reis en geen daarvan is hetzelfde hoewel hij er al vele honderden achter de rug heeft.
REGIO – ‘Een mooier vak als dit bestaat niet’ zegt Frans met trots in zijn stem. Als loods maakt hij van alles mee. Hij beschikt over een prima conditie en echte zeebenen. Voordat hij loods werd, doorliep hij de Hogere Zeevaartschool in Rotterdam waar hij de opleiding volgde voor Maritiem Officier. Vele jaren maakte hij vele kilometers of beter gezegd mijlen op zee om uiteindelijk ook zijn brevet voor kapitein te behalen, want zonder dat wordt je geen loods. “Bij het Loodswezen is iedereen gelijk in rang, althans wat de registerloodsen betreft”, vertelt Sanderse. “De loodsen zijn zowel zelfstandigen als aandeelhouders. Het is een landelijk opererende organisatie met vestigingen of ‘uitrukplaatsen’ zo je het ook wel kunt noemen, in en vanuit de Nederlandse zeehavens en op de vaarroute over de Westerschelde naar Antwerpen en van Terneuzen naar Gent. Ervaren registerloodsen zorgen ervoor dat zeeschepen de havens zo veilig en efficiënt mogelijk in- en uitvaren en dat 7×24 uur, dag en nacht en door weer en wind.” Frans wijst vanuit de snelle pilot-tender die met 50 km/u over het opspattende water van de Noordzee scheert het 81 meter lange loodsschip ‘Polaris’ aan die dik 10 mijl uit de kust ligt te dobberen. De bemanning wordt om de week afgelost. “Deze stationsvaartuigen worden ingezet bij het beloodsen van schepen van en naar de Rotterdamse havens. De loodsboot ligt 5 weken achtereen op zee om daarna te wisselen en worden gebruikt voor het aan boord brengen en afhalen van de registerloodsen.” We varen langszij om twee ‘verse’ loodsen aan boord te nemen en andere loodsen te parkeren om daarna zelf aan boord te stappen van de Chemicaliëntanker Ternvind, waar we worden verwelkomd door de vrouwelijke kapitein Lidja Olsson uit Zweden. Ze kijkt tevreden toe hoe Sanderse de besturing van haar schip overneemt, maar niet het commando want zij is en blijft ‘de baas’ aan boord. De loods is de adviseur van de kapitein. We passeren Hoek van Holland en de immense containerkranen van de ECT welke als stalen ballerina’s hun danspasjes maken met aan hun benen zware containers in plaats van satijnen pointe schoentjes. De Botlek- en Spijkenisserbrug gaan open, voor mij! In Dordrecht stapt Frans in de taxi van Fred van de Poort uit Spijkenisse op weg naar vrouw Christa en kinderen Thomas, Matthijs en Tessa. De klus is geklaard !
AI and autonomy are disrupting every sector including the maritime industry. However, it’s no secret that it comes with its fair share of challenges – whether it’s the high costs involved or the infancy of the concept.
During the roundtable event, moderated by Victor Chavez, the chief executive of Thales, autonomous ships – in the commercial sector as well as naval realm – were the focus of discussion. This included ensuring safety, getting adequate talent and funding and adhering to government regulations. The panel discussed the ongoing trends and innovations in the sector and looked at what the future holds for using autonomy in ships. Here are the five key takeaways from the event.
1) Autonomy is now a necessity for the maritime industry to “remain relevant”
While people have been talking about what autonomy might mean in the maritime industry for a few years, it has now become a necessity for the sector to progress. As James Fanshawe, chair of the UK’s maritime autonomous systems regulatory group puts it: “90% of trade by volume comes into the UK through the sea and making sure that trade can move around the world safely is something we must focus on. Autonomy will be critical in the future and in developing the maritime industry so that it remains relevant for the next 50 years. ”
Fanshawe detailed that for those entering the sector, it was necessary to see whether autonomy could be the answer to the many shipping woes. “The industry was quite a slow burner as a lot of people wanted to wait until other people went further down the track to see what opportunities this really presented,” he said at the roundtable.
According to Fanshawe three main areas which will leverage the autonomous technology the most would be the marine scientific research industry, the oil and gas industry and defence. Given how much man-power is needed to operate the ships, it’s obvious now it would be ideal to automise them. It won’t need anyone to give instructions about where to go. “The gradual capabilities of the sensors and its ability to be integrated together is one of those areas of trying to be clever with technology,” he said.
2) With autonomy comes the need for cybersecurity
While autonomy offers a solution to many issues facing the maritime industry, cybersecurity is one of the key challenges and countering cyberattacks is imperative for every shipping company.
Professor Stephen Turnock from Maritime Robotics Lab at the University of Southampton noted that the consequences of the failure to protect one’s data is much greater now than what it was in the past, Turnock noted. “If you take an autonomous ship you can’t just look at the vessel, you’ve got to look at the control station,” he said. “We have seen very high profile phishing attacks against very large shipping companies. The world of autonomy is got to be as efficient if not more given how autonomous ships rely on technology in a variety of senses.”
Fanshawe added that autonomy could also be a solution as most cyberattacks are the result of human errors. “For instance, if someone goes on board and happens to update software and shoved a USB stick into the computer, the entire system could be infected,” he said. How vessels will make sure their software is robust will be a major priority and autonomy could remove human error.
3) Collaboration with government will be key for autonomous trade
It’s fair to say that the UK is not lagging behind in terms of autonomous ships as it deployed its first autonomous ship, SEA-KIT Maxlimer to Belgium in May this year carrying a box of oysters. Building on that Fanshawe said autonomous ships can be pivotal in trade as once programmed, they can run the operations and can be remotely controlled if need be.
Continued collaboration with the government will be essential to ensure trade continues via autonomous vessels, Fanshawe said.
There is a possibility for ships bigger than 18 metres to be used for trading so more SMEs can capitalise on the shipping industry for business. This is one of the factors which will also drive more potential young maritime engineers as the industry is facing a lack of talent, said Turnock.
4) Autonomy will be an essential for reducing carbon emissions
One of the main goals for the ship industry is the need to reduce maritime emissions. “If we can take goods to a position where it’s the closest to where it’s needed we can start to reduce road transport and of course that means less carbon emissions,” Fanshawe added. “And autonomy makes this easier and more efficient by enabling massive fuel savings.”
“We are under the cusp of a wave, autonomous vessels in large numbers are at sea and massive amount of work is going on to ensure they are being done safely as they did yesterday and probably more so in the future,” he continued.
In fact, it was said that reducing emissions was a goal not just for commercial trade but also for naval ships.
Given how the International Maritime Organisation has set targets to reduce emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, it will become a priority for ships that are being manufactured going forward.
5) Autonomy can save lives
Another area where autonomy will benefit the maritime industry will be by reducing accidents caused by human error.
“They are certainly going to be using these technologies like radios and visual technologies to increase the chance to reduce the potential for accidents to happen,” said Fanshawe.
“Whether you want to do quick inspections or make sure your premises are secure, there are excellent examples of what unmanned surface vehicles (UAVs) can do.”
Autonomous ships will be programmed to identify and recognise objects, such as navigation aids and other vessels around the ship, improving situational awareness and increasing safety.
“Specifically, the technology will provide data from environmental sound recordings and satellite navigation,” said Fanshawe.
It’s one day after a full moon. The sea sparkles as a harbor pilot boat from Port Tampa Bay takes a 45-minute ride into the Gulf of Mexico at 3 a.m.
The pilot works an immensely important job, guiding huge ships under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, up Tampa Bay, past Davis Islands, and through Seddon Channel — this day in the dark with only the moon to light the way while most of Tampa sleeps.
It’s a job that Pilot Carolyn Kurtz works with grace and a demeanor that perhaps only a woman can, a guardian of international ships coming into Tampa’s downtown.
Kurtz is the first and only female harbor pilot working in Tampa waters; she’s an expert at navigating the massive loads of
Carolyn Kurtz climbs onto a bulk cargo ship, part of her daily duties as a harbor pilot.cargo past other marine traffic, lighthouses, tiny islands, and sea creatures — all dependent on the tide and the weather.
On this clear night in June with an 83 Degrees Media journalist tagging along, the harbor pilot boat pulls right up alongside an 857-foot Chinese shipping container, longer than Tampa’s tallest building by almost 300 feet.
A Chinese crew worker tosses a rope ladder over the massive ship’s edge down to Kurtz. The two boats move together with the sea. She reaches up carefully, wearing specially made gloves, grasping one hand onto the rope, releasing the other hand from the handrail of the pilot boat. This one transitional move between boats is potentially fatal with the threat of being crushed between ships and tossed about in the air and on the sea. Yet she’s done it thousands of times to help bring in America’s everyday supplies, from Brazilian orange juice to pineapples to fuel and furniture from far away places like China, Japan, Israel, and Switzerland.
“You always have to be careful,” Kurtz says. “It’s dangerous. Transitioning is the most dangerous part.”
Safely on board
She arrives on the ship to scents from the Far East, coupled with the familiar smell of the sea. Words on the elevator are written in Chinese, and artwork adorning the ship’s interior gives glimpses of China. The crew of more than two dozen men on a ship that moves 3,000 containers around the world offers her and her guest a choice of steaming pots of green tea or coffee.
“Ninety percent of everything we own comes from China,” Kurtz says, referencing a book she read.
Twenty-one of the crew members are asleep, while four follow Kurtz’s commands as they and their ship arrive in Tampa Bay. The men have been out at sea for 63 days before entering the Gulf of Mexico, traveling from Mumbai to Shanghai, through the Panama Canal to Houston and, finally, reaching Tampa.
Yang Yi Jun, the captain aboard the ship says Kurtz is only the 2nd female pilot he’s ever encountered, the first being Nancy Wagner in San Francisco.
Harbor Pilot Carolyn Kurtz carefully guides a Chinese ship into Port Tampa Bay.Kurtz and Wagner are among the first of 10 female harbor pilots in the United States (only one other works in Florida) and responsible for the safe navigation of cargo ships, tankers, cruise ships, and other international vessels.
When Kurtz was young, captains often were surprised and sometimes weren’t happy when she boarded their ships. According to ancient traditions, it was considered bad luck to have women aboard a ship, let alone navigate them.
“Being a female harbor pilot is more normalized these days,” she says.
Kurtz started as a chief mate in 1992. She was in her late-20s. There were no female captains back then.
Then Wagner became the first U.S. female captain, breaking the proverbial glass ceiling. Wagner, an inspiration to Kurtz, graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in New York, the same school from which Kurtz later graduated. Wagner became a pilot in 1990, working San Francisco Bay. Kurtz started training to be a pilot in 1995 and has been doing it ever since.
Today Kurtz oozes competence and confidence, and rarely faces a challenge she can’t handle. She has moved ships more than 3,700 times in 24 years working as a harbor pilot.
While it rarely happens these days, there have been occasions over her career in which she has received less-than-a-warm reception for being female.
“One captain just didn’t understand why I wasn’t at home having babies,” she says.
View from inside the engine room of the ship navigated by Carolyn Kurtz.
She thought to herself, ‘That’s pretty risky insulting your pilot before we get to the dock,’ but she shrugs it off.
“I have a ship to drive,” she says. “It’s not my problem; the drama, the issues, the mindset.” She focuses on the task at hand.
“A big part of the job is putting the captain at ease,” she says. “Even if he’s not receptive, I’m what he’s got. Trust is vital, especially in case of emergencies.”
Because she’s been at it so long, many captains know her well, admire her ability to pilot their ships through tricky seas without incident, and thus welcome her aboard with friendly greetings. Some even extend a brotherly hug. They’ve known her for years.
“We greet like old friends,” Kurtz says.
One crew of 36 men, affectionally say to her, “Little Pilot, Big Ship,” when she arrives on board.
The camaraderie is a global connection that Kurtz enjoys seeing among various countries working together to bring vessels in safely.
“I like meeting people from all over, and eating food from everywhere,” Kurtz says. “I get to travel without leaving home.”
She’s been offered orange juice from Brazil, food from India, Thailand, Italy, the Americas, Turkey, Greece, Russia, and the Philippines, all on ships making their journey into Tampa from international waters.
Love for Tampa
Kurtz moved to Tampa in 1992, when Florida was more provincial, less sophisticated than bigger cities.
Harbor Pilot Carolyn Kurtz off-duty.“Many of the locals seemed more real here, less transient than in other beach communities,” Kurtz says about Tampa. “This felt more like a real city.”
She loves the walkability of the Hyde Park neighborhood in South Tampa, and the mostly favorable weather year-round. “I’ve always felt more at home here,” she says.
She also expresses a love for Tampa’s port, that it’s a long port (as in distance to the Gulf), which means working a long shift, allowing her to focus on navigating one ship per day, versus multiple. She likes that the port offers more variety, navigating past islands and under the Skyway.
Into the harbor
Back onboard the Chinese vessel, a Panama Canal light flickers at the edge of another boat as it approaches. Kurtz gives numerical commands to the captain from China, Yang Yi Jun.
“Cosco Istanbul is now approaching Egmont Key,” she says. “Heading to the Skyway bridge at 4:40 a.m., with a 30-foot clearing under the Skyway.”
It’s a smooth ride under the Skyway in the largest shipping container at
A Chinese container ship guided by Harbor Pilot Carolyn Kurtz glides under the Skyway Bridge with a 30-foot clearing.sea. They glide under the majestic glowing lines of a lit-up Skyway bridge before sunrise. She sometimes describes the job as “moving the beast,” truly a guardian at sea.
The captain then relays commands given by the pilot to his crew. International law requires someone who can speak English on the crew of every ship.
The sun rises on one side as the full moon sets on the other. Small tugboats let off black hazy clouds of smoke and fumes while pulling and pushing and stopping the massive ship.
“Dead stow ahead,” she commands. The ship’s captain repeats her orders to his crew.
“Stop the engine,” she says.
The captain again repeats her commands to his crew.
They dock at the Port of Tampa Container Terminal without error. It’s almost 7 a.m.
“I have job satisfaction,” Kurtz says. “Every successful transit just feels really good, especially when you move in a big beast like that, and you land gently, and the captain is happy.”
There are times after docking and exiting a ship, she says, when she looks up and is really taken aback by the vessel’s massive size.
A portion of the container ship docked by Carolyn Kurtz.”Wow, that’s a really big ship,” she thinks and sighs, grateful to be stepping back on land.
There, Cab Driver Bill Radcliff hangs out at the Port to pick up pilots to take them back to their cars to go home after their journeys. He pulls up alongside Kurtz as she stands near one of the largest ships Tampa receives.
“Most of the crew members say she’s one of the most professional of the whole group,” he says.
He shares a story about Kurtz he heard from a helmsman.
“She comes on board, and she takes over,” the helmsman said. “I’m not complaining. I appreciate that she does that. Well, that’s what she’s supposed to do.”
A different kind of pilot
She’s careful not to come across as arrogant, or uncompromising, even under extra tense situations.
“Women get the job done as effectively — if not more than men — by not trying to act like men doing the job,” she says. “I’m a big believer in ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and very seldom raise my voice on a ship. It’s not an effective way to get what you want. It’s better to be polite and respectful, and not overbearing on ships.”
Beyond piloting massive ships, Kurtz also knits, crochets, and makes jewelry. “I’m sorta crafty,” she says.
We need to cut both global and local emissions from shipping. The picture is complex, but research is showing that there are many ways to meet this goal.
Toralf Hamstad tests a new hull in the ship model tank at SINTEF in Trondheim, Norway. (Photo: Thor Nielsen)
Shipping is the most efficient way of moving goods around the world, in terms of energy consumption per unit transported, but there is still a great deal to be gained by making shipping more environmentally friendly.
Emissions from international shipping come to around 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 a year, which is equal to 2 – 3 per cent of total global emissions. If measures are not taken, these emissions will rise, probably by 50 – 250 per cent in the course of the next 30 years, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The UN’s shipping industry agency intends to reverse this trend. It aims to halve emissions by 2050 and then to continue working towards zero emissions as rapidly as possible.
“Climate targets differ, depending on whom you ask, but the fact that it is the IMO that is setting such ambitious goals is a positive sign, because it is in a position to have a global effect. Whatever it decides applies to every country in the world,” says SINTEF Ocean research manager Anders Valland.
Drastic measures needed NOW!
“Given that ships are in service for 20 – 30 years, drastic measures will have to be put in place now if we are to meet the IMO’s goals by 2050, but the picture is complex,” says Valland.
“One major challenge is that the competitivity of shipping companies is based more on finance than the climate. It costs a lot to prioritise environmental measures when new vessels are being built, while other companies may be holding out until the cost of newbuildings falls. The market is extremely competitive, and it is by no means obvious that going in for climate-friendly technology will give you an advantage. The incentives are quite simply not great enough,” says the SINTEF scientist.
Moreover, since the consumers of sea-borne products are relatively distant in market terms from the actors in the freight sector, they have only a limited ability to influence this situation.
“The shipping companies are dependent on a value being placed on how they act. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help much today to operate extremely low-emission vessels if this raises costs by 10 per cent.”
In practice, total emissions will have to be reduced by 75 per cent
In 2016, SINTEF Ocean launched the Smart Maritime Centre for Research-based Innovation (SFI), a major research project that is looking at what needs to be done to make vessels more energy-efficient, and to reduce pollutiion, while simultaneously making the Norwegian shipping sector more competitive.It is easy to forget local emissions, which of course it is incredibly important to do someting about. Here, the distance to consumers is often shorter. The incentives for ferries and cruise ships to operate in an environmentally friendly way, for example, is greater.Researcher Vnders Valland (SINTEF)
“Since 1970, we have managed to improve energy efficiency by 1.5 per cent every year, but during the same period, the transport sector has grown by an annual 2 – 3 per cent. So in spite of the progress we have made, total fuel consumption has actually increased. This means that if we are to reach our goal of halving emissions by 2050, every single vessel in the fleet will have to reduce its emissions by almost 75 per cent,” says project manager Valland.
This is also reflected in the IMO’s ambition to reduce CO2 emissions from transport (i.e. emissions per tonne-nautical mile carried) by at least 40 per cent by 2040 and 70 per cent by 2050.
“If we are to do this, we cannot simply concentrate all our efforts on fuel consumption. We must take a wider view, by looking at ships as one component of the transportation system. That will enable us to address the problem by examining how we can reduce the overall energy consumption of the transport system. Our point of departure is that we can cut fuel consumption by 25 per cent and also make a difference by improving hull designs to make them 25 per cent more efficient, and that it is possible to improve the efficiency of vessel operation by 25 per cent. In practice, the relative savings made by each of these measures may well turn out to be somewhat different once we have studied the problem in more detail. For example, we could look at how we can reduce the time that ships spend in port, or at how to optimise the load capacity of individual vessels,” says Valland.
The research project is currently performing case studies based on these three areas.
The largest vessels are responsible for most emissions
“It is obvious that the most important way towards achieving IMO’s aims will be to look at solutions for the largest vessels. In terms of numbers, they make up ony one third of the global merchant fleet, but they are responsible for as much as 80 per cent of its fuel consumption,” points out Valland.
At the same time, he is keen to emphasise the importance of not only focusing on greenhouse gas emissions.
“It is easy to forget local emissions, which of course it is incredibly important to do someting about. Here, the distance to consumers is often shorter. The incentives for ferries and cruise ships to operate in an environmentally friendly way, for example, is greater.”
SINTEF Ocean is running a number of research studies of solutions aimed at the Norwegian shipping fleet, which for the most part consists of medium-sized vessels.
“We have a number of projects that are studying how batteries and hydrogen can be used to reduce fuel consumption. This will be of great importance at local level, but at the moment it is largely a Norwegian phenomenon,” finishes Valland.Country Norway
The world’s biggest semi-submersible crane vessel (SSCV) is set to blaze a trail when it enters into service in the coming months, armed with the strongest pair of revolving cranes for offshore oil, gas and renewable energy installation and decommissioning jobs.
Named after the Norse God Odin’s eight-legged stallion and newly completed at Sembcorp Marine’s Tuas Boulevard Yard for owner Heerema Marine Contractors, SSCV Sleipnir has a 220m by 102m reinforced deck area, making it the largest crane vessel to be built.
The vessel also has two 10,000t revolving cranes, which can lift loads of up to 20,000t in tandem. Heerema Marine Contractors said no other existing crane vessel has this capability.
Sleipnir can accommodate 400 persons and will be deployed globally for installing and removing jackets, topsides, deep-water foundations, moorings and other offshore structures.
“Importantly, with its singlelift capability catering to larger integrated structures than previously possible, Sleipnir will minimise offshore assembly work and raise operational efficiency to a new level, while not compromising the flexibility and robustness of traditional installation methodologies,” said Heerema Marine Contractors.
The vessel further stands out as the world’s first crane vessel with dual-fuel engines running on Marine Gas Oil (MGO) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Coupled with an IMO- and US Coast Guard-approved ballast water management system, Sleipnir will operate sustainably across all environmental jurisdictions.
Heerema has already secured contracts to deploy the vessel in various offshore energy developments, including: Leviathan topsides installation in the Mediterranean Sea; Tyra jackets and topsides installation and removal in the Danish North Sea; Brae B jackets and topsides removal in the UK North Sea; as well as transportation and installation of the Hollandse Kust Zuid (HKZ) Alpha HVAC platform in the North Sea, off the Dutch coast.
In the offshore wind sector, Heerema sees a significant growth in the size of wind turbines and foundations, which requires specialised equipment for their installation. With its large cranes capable of a 175m lifting height and a combined 20,000t lifting capacity, Sleipnir is very well placed to accommodate this trend of increasingly bigger offshore wind turbines.
AIS has made it far easier for navigators to identify vessel movements for collision avoidance, and it has made shipping far more transparent by enabling worldwide vessel tracking services. The industry has grown since AIS rolled out in the early 2000s, and a much-needed update is on the way: VHF Data Exchange System, or VDES, which will incorporate AIS plus several valuable new functions.
VDES will operate in VHF frequencies adjacent to the existing AIS channel, and will use a different network protocol to increase its throughput capacity. This will boost the system’s capacity for ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore, ship-to-satellite and virtual ATON applications, eliminating the network limitations that affect high-traffic areas today. It will have up to 30 times more bandwidth, which will also give it more capacity for sharing weather forecasts, alerts and other data packets that are a bit too large for AIS.
VDES is also expected to increase navigation data security by adding access control and authentication features for AIS radio traffic. Since it is authenticated, it could be used to provide warning in the event of GNSS jamming and spoofing, according to Johan Lindborg, project manager for marine and defense tech company Saab. Saab is already working on type approval for a VDES-capable AIS base station, with an upgrade path for full VDES available by 2021 – about the same time that the new protocol is expected to enter into operation.
VDES may also incorporate a dedicated channel for two-way VHF ship-to-satellite communications, which could be used to share ice routes, weather updates or GNSS status reports, among other uses. The International Telecommunication Union will consider setting aside a channel for this purpose at a meeting in November.
The new protocol could also provide the backbone for a backup positioning system in the event of GNSS spoofing or jamming. Researchers from the German Aerospace Center are now testing a new terrestrial navigation system, R-Mode, which leverages existing radionavigation transciever stations on shore (DGNSS reference stations and AIS base stations) to transmit timed positioning signals. Since the cost of implementation is low relative to a full-fledged, purpose-built system like eLoran, R-Mode is a promising way to bring resiliency to e-navigation, according to IALA.