As plans were being made for autonomous ships, Corona virus has forced the maritime industry to adopt autonomous (work from home) offices.
The industry had held several seminars and discussions wherein the administration and industry had weighed the pros and cons of autonomous ships. However, the ‘autonomous office’ which the industry had never contemplated, has occurred unexpectedly like something out of Alladin’s magic lamp! But this occurrence has turned out to be an ideal movement in these idle moments. Indeed if this had not happened the work would have come to either a complete or a partial stand still!
In this locked-down world, there has been an explosion in the use of remote equipment surveys and remote maintenance for critical updates. In these idle moments we have begun to understand how to turn them into an ideal movement by shifting to IoT (Internet of Things) monitoring to turn the precarious situation into an ideal movement.
There are several other segments which have been ideally affected by the pandemic. One of them is poaching of senior ranks in ship management. Due the shortage of senior officers this was a phenomenon that was expected to grow over the years. In this time of crisis the maritime associations and unions have shown remarkable unity and planning in arranging crew change. Co-operation and co-ordination from the DG and the shipping ministry has also been of enormous dimensions. Presently society is following social distancing, physical distancing. One can add that the shipping industry is adopting poaching distancing! Or, should we say that the maritime industry is avoiding fishing in troubled water s !
The present predicament has also resulted in introduction of online maritime training as a substitute for classroom training, which was deemed a necessity till the corona virus struck. The relevance of hands on training was believed to be so important that a ship in campus took birth and became mandatory for certain courses in maritime institutes. It would be interesting to watch the further guidelines and DGS circulars as far as online training is concerned. In this idle situation, the ideal movement has been that of the institutes and students have agreed to satisfy the training guideline, issued by the DG Shipping, presently.
The Indian shipping industry was affected by chronic problems like the low tonnage carried by it and small share of Indian seafarers provided by the country to the maritime world, due to the unfavorable laws and guidelines issued by the government and the authorities. One needs to muse on the fact that when the situation was ideal the efforts of the maritime administration and industry were idle. But now, in idle moment, there is an ideal movement of shipping industry due to the excellent co-ordination and co-operation between the government and the industry. Let’s hope it continues!