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Alternative Fuels

SMW 2023: DNV study shows 87% of seafarers need training on new bunker fuels

Almost 87% of 500 seafarers indicated a need for partial or complete training regarding emerging bunker fuels such as ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen, says DNV.




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Classification society DNV on Friday (28 May) published a study that examines the key drivers transforming the maritime industry—particularly decarbonisation and digitalisation — and their impact on sea-going professionals in the lead-up to 2030. 

The study, titled The Future of Seafarers 2030: A Decade of Transformation was co-sponsored by the Singapore Maritime Foundation to advance the conversation on the training and development of sea-going professionals as well as the attraction and retention of the talent pool.

The findings were obtained through a combination of literature review, expert consultations, and a survey of more than 500 seafarers collectively responsible for operating dry bulk, tanker, and container vessels globally. Some 70%  of the seafarers who responded to the survey had been in the industry for over 11 years. Approximately two-third of the respondents held the rank of officers.

Key Findings

A pressing need for training in new fuels and technology

  • Broadly, both officers and ratings strongly indicated a pressing need for training in new fuels and technology—the survey results were consistent across the ranks.
  • Over 75% of seafarers (Deck and Engine Officers 78%) indicated they would require partial or complete training on fuels such as LNG, batteries, or synthetic fuel.
  • Almost 87% of respondents (Deck and Engine Officers 91%) indicated a need for partial or complete training regarding emerging fuels such as ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen.
  • A total of 81% of respondents (Deck and Engine Officers 85%) indicated that they require either partial or complete training in dealing with advanced digital technologies (such as further automation of equipment/systems, advanced sensors, artificial intelligence, remote operations etc.); only 13% (Deck and Engine Officers 11%) agreed that they were well trained.
  • 52% of Seafarers (Deck and Engine Officers 53%) indicated a strong preference for in- person training at a maritime training centre or academy, with 23% (Deck and Engine Officers 27%) indicating a blend of in-person and online training would be suitable.
  • Almost 70% of respondents (Deck and Engine Officers 74%) have used simulators, virtual reality or other digital environments when undertaking training, and 60% (Deck and Engine Officers 65%) indicated that these training methods helped develop their skills. Only 10% (Deck and Engine Officers 9%) of the respondents indicated that these training methods were ineffective in developing their skills.

Embracing new technology

  • Two-thirds of seafaring officers said more advanced technology onboard would make their job easier. This positive feedback from seafarers on the introduction of new technologies onboard fits well with the thriving maritime innovation ecosystem with increasing venture capital funding, particularly in Singapore.
  • However, only 40% of seafaring officers think shore-based remote-control centres, which can remotely operate some or all functions, would make their onboard job easier.

Sustainability and technology as talent recruitment and retention tools

  • A total of 55% of respondents (Deck and Engineering Officers 50%) indicated that new developments in fuels, automation and digitalisation onboard ships can assist in attracting new seafarers to a career at sea and retaining existing seafarers.

Key Recommendations

Corollary to the key findings, the study puts forward a number of recommendations, particularly in the area of seafarer training and development well as attraction and retention, including:

A collective responsibility to prepare seagoing professionals for the future

  • Key stakeholders such as regulatory bodies, shipowners/operators/managers and training academies should carefully assess and target the skill deficits in digitalisation and decarbonisation in the current decade to ensure seafarers have the necessary skills in place when they are needed in the future. Training could be prioritised on LNG and batteries as these fuel types are likely to be the most prevalent ‘alternative option’ in the current decade, and as the number of vessels in operations and on orders having LNG and battery or battery-hybrid has significantly grown in the last few years.
  • The industry should use the future seafarer training model where maritime training academies focus on delivering basic/generalised shipboard skills while ship operators should be focusing on delivering fuel-specific and vessel-specific training.

Opportunity to employ modern training methods to address augmented training and development

  • The industry is well placed to embrace modern training methods to fill the skills deficit and enhance seafarers’ development in the current decade. Although not all training will be suited to a single medium, the industry should be encouraged to effectively use a range of training options to enable training to be accessed universally, promptly and comprehensively. This may result in the blending of training courses to have both a digital and in-person component to make best use of the available training resources and thereby be more accessible to seafarers. There is also scope to further include technologies such as VR/AR in enhancing seafarer training.
  • Shipowners/operators/managers and training academies must ensure that the best- placed seafarers based on position onboard, experience and availability are trained at the right time to ensure continuity of operations and knowledge and skills transfer. This may result in Senior Officers being trained on new technologies and fuels first to enable an effective mentoring and on-the-job training environment onboard. The junior crew could have their onboard training supplemented by harnessing the available technology-assisted training (e.g., virtual reality, simulators etc.).
  • Future STCW courses could introduce updated fire-fighting techniques and methods into the curriculum to combat the new types of fire, posed by the adoption of new and emerging fuels.
  • It is recommended that a renewed focus on the development of a seafarer’s soft skills be made by maritime training organisations and by employers of seafarers. 

Providing a pathway for sustainable career progression for seagoing professionals, vital for talent attraction and retention

  • Shipowners/operators/managers should closely manage their seafarer’s progression opportunities from both an attraction-retention point of view and an operational capability perspective. The career development opportunities that digitalisation and decarbonisation present should be leveraged to retain and attract people to a seafaring job.
  • Shipowners/operators/managers should harness seafarers’ unique and desirable skill sets and provide them with opportunities for complementary shore-based roles such as vessel control and monitoring facilities (shore control centres), which will likely become more prevalent later in the current decade and beyond.

“As industry transformation—spurred by digital innovation and fuel transition—picks up pace, we must prioritise the training and development of sea-going professionals, ensuring that they possess the technical competencies to safely operate the more advanced ships that are coming on stream. Digitalisation and decarbonisation could present opportunities to attract a younger generation of sea-going professionals, provided a pathway to sustainable career development is visible, transiting from sea to shore based careers. I thank DNV for their partnership in developing this study, which we hope could serve to provide useful inputs to advance the discussion in the training and development as well as attraction and retention of sea-going professionals,” said Ms. Tan Beng Tee, Executive Director, Singapore Maritime Foundation.

“Emerging fuels and new technologies could pose safety risks for assets and crews, if not handled properly. Therefore, we must focus on the human factor and adequately train seafarers who operate and maintain ship systems, including carrying out bunkering operations”, said Ms. Cristina Saenz de Santa Maria, Regional Manager South-East Asia, Pacific & India, DNV Maritime.

“As an industry, we have a responsibility to keep them safe and well prepared for all eventualities. Therefore, we are pleased to have helped, with this study, to identify challenges and opportunities for seafarers in an era of transformation driven by decarbonisation and digitalisation.” 

Note: ‘The Future of Seafarers 2030: A Decade of Transformation’ working document can be downloaded from


Photo credit: DNV
Published: 2 May, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

IUMI: How can liability and compensation regimes adapt to alternative bunker fuels and cargoes?

Existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative marine fuels will bring.





Dangerous cargo

By Tim Howse, Member of the IUMI Legal & Liability Committee and Vice President, Head of Industry Liaison, Gard (UK) Limited

The world economy is transitioning, with industries across the board seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and embrace more sustainable practices. As part of this, there is a huge effort within our industry to look to decarbonise, using alternative fuels such as biofuel, LNG, LPG, ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen.

Until now there has been much focus on carbon emissions and operational risks associated with the use of alternative fuels. This includes increased explosivity, flammability, and corrosivity. An ammonia leak causing an explosion in port could result in personal injuries, not to mention property damage, air, and sea pollution. In addition, alternative fuels may not be compatible with existing onboard systems, increasing the risk of breakdowns and fuel loss resulting in pollution. Apart from these safety concerns, which particularly concern crew, air pollution and other environmental impacts need to be addressed.

However, the green transition also presents us with a separate regulatory challenge, which has received less attention so far. So, whilst carbon emissions and safety concerns are rightly on top of the agenda now, the industry also needs to prioritise the potential barriers in the legal and regulatory frameworks which will come sharply into focus if there is an accident.

If anything, historic maritime disasters like the Torrey Canyon spill in 1967, have taught us that we should look at liability and compensation regimes early and with a degree of realism to ensure society is not caught off-guard. With our combined experience, this is perhaps where the insurance industry can really contribute to the transition.

Currently, existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative fuels will bring. For example, an ammonia fuel spill would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (Bunkers Convention), potentially resulting in a non-uniform approach to jurisdiction and liability. Similarly, an ammonia cargo incident would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC). Uncertainties may also exist in the carriage of CO2 as part of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects, which may be treated as a pollutant, with corresponding penalties or fines.

A multitude of questions will arise depending on what happens, where it happens, and the values involved, many of which may end up as barriers for would be claimants. How will such claims be regulated, will there be scope for limitation of liability, and would there be a right of direct action against the insurers? In the absence of a uniform international liability, compensation and limitation framework, shipowners, managers, charterers, individual crew, and the insurers may be at the mercy of local actions. Increased concerns about seafarer criminalisation (even where international conventions exist, ‘wrongful’ criminalisation does still occur) may emerge, creating another disincentive to go to sea.

When being carried as a cargo, the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS), which is not yet in force, may resolve some of these issues for alternative fuels and CO2. However, until HNS comes into force, there will be no international uniformity to liability and compensation for the carriage of alternative fuels and CO2 as cargoes. This creates uncertainties for potential victims and their insurers, who may face increased risks and costs, due to the potential inability of existing regulations to provide protections.

The situation is even less clear in the case of bunkers. The rules for using alternative fuels as bunkers might require a separate protocol to HNS, a protocol to the Bunkers Convention, or a whole new convention specifically for alternative fuels.  Relevant considerations for the appropriate legislative vehicle include states’ preparedness to reopen the Bunkers Convention, the ability to conclude a protocol to HNS before it comes into force, and whether a multi-tier fund structure is needed for alternative fuels as bunkers (perhaps unnecessary because bunkers are usually carried in smaller quantities compared to cargoes).

Until then, what we are left with are the existing international protective funds, designed to respond at the highest levels to pollution claims resulting from an oil spill, without any similar mechanism in place to respond to a spill of alternative fuels, which are themselves so central to a green transition. Somewhat perversely, victims of accidents involving an oil spill may therefore enjoy better protections than victims of an alternative fuels spill.

In summary, while the use of alternative fuels will no doubt help to reduce the industry's carbon footprint, there are safety and practical hurdles to overcome. Stakeholders must also come together to find solutions to complex - and urgent, in relative terms - legal and regulatory challenges.


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Source:  International Union of Marine Insurance
Published: 13 June 2024

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Expert discusses technical considerations of using ammonia as marine fuel

Ammonia as bunker fuel poses significant safety challenges due to its toxicity and flammability, says Senior Marine Surveyor Muammer Akturk.





Technical considerations of ammonia as marine fuel

Muammer Akturk, a Senior Marine Surveyor specialising in alternative bunker fuels, on Monday (10 June) published an article on technical considerations of using ammonia as a marine fuel in his Alternative Marine Fuels Newsletter.

The article dives into the use of ammonia as a marine fuel, focusing on the safety and technical considerations necessary for its implementation.

Ammonia is recognised for its potential as a zero-carbon fuel, making it an attractive option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry. However, it poses significant safety challenges due to its toxicity and flammability.

Key points discussed include:

  1. Safety Measures: The importance of stringent design and operational safety measures to prevent ammonia releases and mitigate risks during both normal and emergency conditions is emphasized. This includes the need for gas dispersion analyses and the use of safety systems like gas detectors and alarms
  2. Regulatory Framework: The article reviews the latest regulations and guidelines developed to ensure the safe use of ammonia as a marine fuel. This includes the IACS Unified Requirement H1, which provides a framework for controlling ammonia releases on vessels
  3. Engineering Considerations: Technical aspects such as fuel storage, handling systems, and the role of risk assessments in identifying potential hazards and implementing preventive measures are detailed
  4. Human Factors: The article also considers the human factors approach to safety, emphasizing training and the importance of designing systems that account for human errorOverall, the article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the challenges and solutions associated with using ammonia as a marine fuel, highlighting the importance of safety and regulatory compliance in its adoption.

Editor’s note: The full article can be found at the link here.


Published: 13 June 2024

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Green Marine Fuels Trading, Vopak team up on green methanol port storage facilities

Green Marine Fuels revealed a strategic collaboration with Vopak to secure necessary port storage to accommodate green methanol supply in Shanghai, Tianjin and later in Singapore.





Green Marine Fuels Trading, Vopak team up on green methanol port storage facilities

Green Marine Fuels Trading on Tuesday (11 June) announced a strategic collaboration with Royal Vopak Terminals in the key ports of Shanghai Caojing and Tianjin Lingang, China. 

The firm said the milestone agreement marked the next phase of methanol supply chain infrastructure expansion for Green Marine Fuels Trading, securing necessary port storage capacity to accommodate projected supply of green methanol from Chinese business partners.  

Green Marine will be undertaking a similar cooperation plan with Vopak Singapore as well. 

Gavin McGrath, Director at Green Marine, said: “This is an important milestone in the evolution of Green Marine Fuels Trading and further underscores our preparedness to supply green methanol to the imminent green transition within the shipping industry.” 

“Our leadership in the global methanol marine fuel sector uniquely positions us to bridge the gap between methanol producers and buyers, with storage and supply infrastructure being a crucial link in the chain.”

“We eagerly anticipate leveraging our expertise in these domains to enrich the Shanghai and Tianjin green port and marine fuel ecosystems.”

Manifold Times previously reported Vopak signing a strategic cooperation agreement with the Vice Mayor of Tianjin delegation to support the repurposing of Vopak Tianjin's infrastructure for new energies, including green methanol, sustainable aviation fuel, and potentially ammonia and liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC).

Vopak said Tianjin Port Group will work closely with Vopak to develop a green methanol bunkering service solution.

Related: Tianjin Port Group and Vopak partner to develop green methanol bunkering service


Photo credit: Green Marine Group
Published: 12 June 2024

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