The introduction of new technology onboard ships will not cut the cost of claims unless it is accompanied by more crew training, according to a panel of marine insurance experts.
Speaking Monday at the Houston Marine and Energy Insurance Conference, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty senior marine consultant Captain Andrew McKinsey warned that existing standards of seafaring must be preserved amid a heightened industry focus on autonomous vessels.
“One of the keys to this is that we don’t lose the key foundations of sound seamanship,” he warned, adding that most new technology on vessels will be used to improve the reliability and efficiency of systems that currently require heavy human oversight.
Panellist Todd Busch, strategic adviser at Sea Machines Robotics, said the majority of maritime colleges were working hard to establish what skills seafarers continue to require as the industry undergoes widespread technological change.
“Most of the autonomous-related activity on vessels these days is not about taking away the crew,” he said.
“Today it is more about augmentation.”
The warning follows a spate of hull and liability claims caused by human error including the collision of a Tunisian ferry and the container ship CSL Virginia last October and the 2017 sinking of the Kea Trader.
An annual shipping safety review published earlier this year by AGCS estimated that between 75 percent and 96 percent of accidents at sea can involve human error.
In the study AGCS said it had seen an increase in the size and cost of claims stemming from large vessels such as car carriers.
Marine hull and liability insurers currently face sustained pressure to force through rate rises and improve their expense ratios. Insurers face pressure to achieve rate rises at renewals in addition to cutting claims costs.