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Wanted: A Glimpse of the Ship of the Future

The analysts’ numbers for shipyard productivity are in—and they are down.  Who can blame a shipowner for hesitating to commit to a starting point of $50 million per ship for a vessel whose requirements are in flux?  How do you design a ship when you don’t know what its trade, emission profile, and power plants look like?

The many elements of global trade are a dynamic force today.  Not only are new oil and gas trades being affected (who knew the US would be a net exporter???), but the profile of the end user will change dramatically in the next 25 years.  Not only will China’s middle class continue to grow, but we will see Africa as an emerging market, changing the flows.  We will also see China continue to develop the natural resources of Africa to there will be new patterns.

We have goals for emissions, but no clear-cut pathway to get there.  What we know is that the IMO is working on a strategy for shipping that will fulfil a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% in 2030 and 50% in 2050.  The testing of technologies abounds, and many are hosting meetings to discuss decarbonization, but what is practicable for shipping is yet unknown, hence what the ship will look like is still a mystery.

The heartbeat of the ship is its engine.  Today they are large and thundering.  Tomorrow they may be small and silent.  Space configurations on a ship have always been an issue as every square inch that is dedicated to equipment is less space for cargo.  Further, any later modification to that space, as adopters of ballast water treatment systems and EGCS’ will attest, is costly and usually problematic.

What must endure is a ship’s efficiency, safety and “fit for purpose”.

Anyone have a spare crystal ball?

Keep optimizing,

Carleen Lyden Walker
Chief Executive Officer
IMO Maritime Ambassador
+1 203 255 4686 (o)
+1 203 260 0480 (m)

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