The Technology Train Has Left the Station

OK, so you are not in the maritime business.

by Eric Holdeman / January 10, 2020

Having worked for four years at the Port of Tacoma, I still end up getting the Pacific Maritime Magazine. This morning over a bagel I was checking out what the articles were about. The focus of the edition was on fuel technology.

If you go back 20 years or so, ships were fueled by what is called bunker fuel. Basically what is left in the petroleum fueling process after gasoline and diesel are refined. It is next to coal in being very dirty and carbon-heavy fuel. Ship builders, shipping lines, ferry systems and tugboat operators have been looking for cleaner fuels.

As I noted above, in this one issue there were short articles about a variety of ships being built today to be fueled with: diesel, diesel electric (think train locomotives), hybrid, liquid natural gas (LNG), methanol, battery powered with diesel back-up, hydrogen fuel cell system, and some newfangled wind devices to augment forward propulsion — see picture below. 

My point is that the technological revolution that I generally have written about as being "digital" is also occurring across the board — as illustrated by just the list above of different fuel systems being experimented with and implemented, not to mention hull design, propulsion systems, etc. 

If we are not moving forward with technological innovation in emergency management, we are in reality falling further and further behind. 

Platforms & Programs