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Who needs sailors anyway?

But not quite with the same result. Just stopping the propeller cold on a 12m Rhib running at 28 Kts will stop it in about 20 meters. Your T1 tanker running at 16 Kts will take anywhere from 3.5 to 5 NM to come to a stop. it's called momentum and that is where all the experience of a master or pilot comes into play: judging momentum, wind, waves and currents effect on a vessel - and knowing things like judging where you need to act in view of advance, transfer and distances to new courses. I am sure that autonomous systems can deal with those through instantaneous recognition of being "off-the-programmed-course" from things like GPS or local high precision sensors and from algorithms, but to teach remote drivers how to judge those factors takes years and years.

And BTW, if you go full autonomous, who is going to switch the engines on your container ship from light diesel to bunker and back to cover the long same speed leg in the middle of the voyage? And if you have maintainers or engineers onboard, would they trust that there is no one on the bridge?

I am not against technology, I am just saying there are many impondreables to consider here. Things like, what do you do if the steering gear decides to fail in the Suez canal? Or if the main engines crash stop in mid-Pacific?

BTW, Kirkhill, re: the Iron view helmet: I can't find it now, but a few years ago, I saw similar technology being developed for container ships. Basically, at the flip of a switch, it projected an image on the bridge windows that made it possible for the bridge personnel to seem to look through the containers and hull so they could see everything near the ship at their front. When you consider that the sight lines on a loaded container ship prevents the bridge team from seeing the first couple of nautical miles in front of them, that would be a great tool. Can't find any reference to it anymore though, and don't know how ar they got with the tech.

WRT stopping distance I think that is precisely where the autonomous aspect would show themselves. The Captain would not be the Master. The Master would be the AI ship itself. The Ship would ask the Captain for permissions and instructions.

WRT engines and fuels - why couldn't that be handled with automation? Maersk Triple Es already run with crews of 13. I think that would be a good number for a large autonomous ship. With a skeleton requirement of 4.

As to Colin's point about needing manning in some harbours ... put the bridge crew on board with the pilot. And drive the ship from here


Perhaps with one of the fancy helmets.
I agree with both the large number of "imponderables - unknown unknowns" and the need for regular maintenance (including regular calibration of sensors and actuators).

I'm not sure about the need for taking vessels off line for maintenance. Maintenance crews could be dropped aboard as necessary. Suppliers are doing that with manned vessels now.
Port of Prince Rupert trialed pilot boarding's by helicopter, they liked it, but determined you needed a certain number of vessels to make it financially viable. They still keep the option there if required, but generally do it by pilot boat, but boarding's are never dull.
Large Un(...) Surface - 1000-2000 tonne corvette for killing ships and shore attacks
Medium Un(...) Surface - 500 tonne ISR patrol craft
Extra Large Un(...) Underwater - A "subway car" capable of deploying CAPTOR type mines.

This ship is fitted with but not for sailors.

Unlike commissioned warships, the Patrick Blackett will fly the Blue Ensign — denoting a government-owned civilian vessel — though she will be commanded by a naval officer and carry a naval crew of five. Her hull is also black instead of naval grey, bearing the new ship’s unique NATO pennant number: X01.
Nelson's line of frigates will be uninhabited and cloud based.

,,, the service (USN) is making major investments in unmanned technology, which he views as “the way of the future.”

The service has also been putting industry’s products through their paces.

“The pace of innovation is amazing,” Capt. Michael Brasseur, commander of Task Force 59, said in a statement when 5th Fleet’s Digital Horizon drone experimentation event kicked off last month. “We are challenging our industry partners in one of the most difficult operational environments, and they are responding with enhanced capability, fast.”

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command is creating a “mesh network” of AI-equipped unmanned surface vessels that carry cameras and transmit data via the cloud. The USVs and enabling technologies are expected to enhance the sea service’s situational awareness in the vast bodies of water near the Middle East. The drones have been equipped with cameras that can keep an eye on what’s going on and alert commanders when they detect something notable

Is it important to be able to see what the enemy is doing, and broadcasting that information? Or is it important to keep the knowledge of what the enemy is doing to yourself?

It used to be standard practice to encrypt our own locations but to communicate enemy positions in the clear because, presumably, the enemy knew where it was and therefore the only thing you were doing was telling them that you knew what they knew. Any encryption would just have slowed info passage and also allowed the enemy the opportunity to decrypt the current code.

In a world under 24/7 observation by Open Source Intelligence perhaps the right response is to just add to the clutter of information and ensure that the information you need or want is amongst it and to rely on the clutter itself to disguise your interest and intent.