What Does the Post-COVID Future Hold for the Shipping Industry?


The COVID-19 Pandemic has proven to be crippling to economies all around the globe, which in turn proved the great importance of logistics during times of crisis.

Even with a global pandemic, with ship crews being exposed to the possibility of the virus in enclosed spaces, sea transportation has not failed to provide for the needs of people in need and thus saved many lives. Due to the heroic efforts of the ship crews all around the world, people are handling this major crisis with far less damage to their standard of living. With all this in mind, what is the plan to reduce the effects of the hinderance of such occasions? Could remote controlled and/or autonomous vessels be the answer?

It is obvious that a life at sea is taxing for every employee, and that due to harsh working conditions, keeping a good crew to maintain a good level of service is expensive.

This begs the question: what can be done to lower the costs and to increase the quality of life for marine crew? Some companies such as Rolls Royce and Yara International and governments such as the European Union think autonomous ships are the answer. Projects are still in the very early stages, yet the expectations are already too high on both the shipowner and marine personnel sides. Since the crew’s expenses take up one third of the total running costs on average, reducing this cost will provide better opportunities for shipowners and the crew since efficiency will increase greatly. If we consider the dangerous goods which are traded via maritime transportation such as natural gasses, chemical products, oil and so forth, mechanization of these commodities is a necessity in today’s world.

It is safe to say that COVID-19 is known for its contagiousness more than anything and social distancing is a key factor in keeping the pandemic in check – something not easy to maintain in such close quarters. Since maritime transportation makes up for 82% of the world trade, terminating service is not possible as it was in the realm of air transportation. With this much at stake, the shipping industry surely needs serious precautions to ensure to can keep the world well-provisioned. After all, the world economy is in a delicate balance for some time now, which needs all the actors engaged and focused.