Page 6: of Marine News Magazine (November 2019)

Workboat Annual

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EDITOR’S NOTE s we head briskly into November with that proverbial bone in our teeth, I ? nd my mood evolving into a surprisingly upbeat place. And, that’s got nothing to do with the fact that

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I’m one tuition check away from the Promised Land when it comes to underwriting my son’s soon-to-be completed college education. But, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Actually, my op- timism stems largely from the rapidly approaching con? uence of no less than three disruptive events that, for some, bring great anxiety. From my chair, however, the immediate future for the domestic waterfront looks bright indeed.

First and foremost, the slow approach of technology on the waterfront has evolved into a torrent of potential that’s here to stay. It’s on board, and it’ll be there when your vessel takes ‘last line’ in the near future. Moreover, within this edition, Kongsberg’s Vigleik Takle insists, keefe@marinelink.com “... there are still maritime companies out there working within a traditional framework of manual processes which are becoming less relevant, practicable and competitive with every passing day.” He adds, “… the need to adopt a considered long-term digital strategy becomes ever more pressing.”

Now, I don’t want to steal any more of his thunder, but the message is quite clear.

Part and parcel of that trend will, of course, be the also evolving concept of autonomous oper- ations on the waterfront. That technology is already here and conventional wisdom tells us that it [? rst] holds the most promise for the workboat sector, where we tackle those ‘dull, dirty and dangerous’ tasks every day. Automation promises a safer, less mundane world; different equip- ment, with different (but more) jobs than we could ever imagine, and the corresponding need to learn different skill sets. That’s a little scary. Think of it this way: just 40 years ago, I was still plot- ting radar contacts with a grease pencil. Today’s millennial mariner probably thinks that’s funny.

Leveraging all that autonomy and digital connectivity will next be the rapidly evolving (there’s that word again) domestic offshore wind industry, which if the environmental lobby doesn’t kill it ? rst (go ? gure, right?), is set to explode. Domestic offshore wind brings with it all kinds of baggage, not the least of which involves a robust and fast-paced boat building program.

Earlier in this missive, I characterized what’s to come next as a con? uence of events. Really, it represents a perfect storm that will transform the domestic waterfront and propel it into its next exciting (and lucrative) era.

There will be something for everyone: training requirements, a demand for new hulls and the hardware that ? lls those boats, employment opportunities – you name it. Vessel operators, ? nanciers, educators, OEM’s of every shape and size and of course those all those mariners can – and should – prosper in the ‘new’ workboat economy. Finally, and as we all should know, the U.S. merchant ? eet (39,500 out of 40,000 hulls) is decidedly workboat centric. Auspicious winds are indeed blowing for our autonomous and digital future. That’s something everyone can be happy about.

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Joseph Keefe, Editor, keefe@marinelink.com

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Marine News

Marine News is the premier magazine of the North American Inland, coastal and Offshore workboat markets.