Article Open Access
Maritime Technology and Research
Following the so-called “Industrial Revolution”, the shipping industry has benefitted from a very extended number of technology innovations. Over time, shipbuilding practices and the equipment of ships have been significantly improved. Furthermore,
during the last couple of decades, the continuous improvement and integration- interconnection of electronics systems (the “network-centric” approach), have created
a new operating environment for shipping. It is therefore not a coincidence that recent discussions on digitalization and autonomous ships provide a disruptive picture of how this industry may be transformed in the near future. Contemporary sea-going vessels are equipped with various technologically advanced systems and are highly automated. Today, all systems supporting the conduct of navigation and the various information technology (IT) applications related to ship management activities are heavily reliant upon real-time information to safely/effectively fulfil their allocated tasks. The issues of connectivity and interconnection clearly stand out. It is important to assess how navigation will be conducted in the near future. This analysis is based on a qualitative methodology, and its starting point, which also serves as the necessary “literature review”, is to identify and briefly discuss a certain number of technological developments that follow the network-centric architecture and have been recently introduced as equipment appropriate for ships. Next, it will examine how interactive processes and applications, both on the shore side and onboard vessels, can facilitate a safer working environment for seafarers and allow personnel based ashore to have a better understanding of what is happening at sea, as part of explaining the so-called “net-centric” framework of operations. Another important aim is to evaluate these promising technological trends according to their capacity of adoption in order to promote efficient and safe operations within the extended maritime transport domain. An important conclusion is that a net-centric philosophy and associated software applications can truly break down any existing limitations and create a collaborative environment for people and “machines”, including remotely controlled unmanned vessels.