A Nigerian, Iorliam Simon Tersoo, has won the Future Maritime Leaders essay competition organised by the Global Maritime Forum. Tersoo’s article titled, “Emerging Technologies: Autonomous Shipping and Seafarers’ Continuous Professional (Ir) Relevance,” was among top three essays selected from 140 shortlisted entries from 46 countries that participated in the annual competition in Singapore.
Tersoo wrote on how to prepare the next generation of seafarers for digitalised ships, which is believed to be the future of shipping. He anchored his write-up to the bourgeoning technological innovation, Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS), which the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) defines as a ship which “can operate independently of human interaction.”
His essay painted the picture of a future where ships will be fully digitalised, automated, autonomously piloted, and controlled from both onshore and offshore. He described this as the next phase of disruptive innovation in shipping.
Tersoo acknowledged the immense benefits of the autonomous shipping regime but identified a major challenge of the innovation as the threat posed to the jobs of the over 1.5 seafarers working onboard ships worldwide. To address this challenge, he said the committee on Human Element Training and Watch-keeping (HTW) of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) “will have to re-organise the curriculum of Maritime Training Institutions (MTIs) globally to embrace this new trend, tilting seafarers training more towards maritime information communications technology (ICT) and regulations that can enable them to participate effectively in the technological revolution.” He also recommended the retraining of existing seafarers to fit into the new digital era.
Tersoo, a product of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), had worked on board a vessel and is now fully involved in regulatory duties at NIMASA. So he had the opportunity of seeing both sides of the life of a seafarer. He attributed his success in the essay competition to the push for a knowledge driven organisation by the current leadership of NIMASA, saying he is challenged daily by leadership and innovation at the Agency.
The winners of the competition won a chance to attend the Global Maritime Forum Annual Summit 2019 in Singapore, all expenses covered, together with 200 leaders from inside and outside the maritime industry, where they will represent the voice of the young generations.