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Singapore: A perfect storm of retiring baby-boomers and the ongoing global economic downturn, are causing the number of skilled seafarers in the global industry to shrink dramatically, but attendees at Seatrade Offshore Marine & Workboats Middle East (SOMWME) will hear from an expert panel of speakers how automation and advances in connectivity could solve the looming skills crisis.

The issue will be addressed on day one of the biannual Seatrade Offshore Marine and Workboats Middle East (SOMWME) 2017 exhibition and conference, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from September 25-27, 2017, where speakers at the ‘Manning Update’ will assess the role of automation in tackling the ongoing challenge.

Moderated by Captain Michael P. Elwert, Group Chief Executive Officer, Elektrans Group, the panel will feature William Tobin, Underwriting Syndicate Manager — Offshore, The Shipowners Club and Captain John Lloyd, Chief Executive Officer, The Nautical Institute, as well as Revd Dr Paul Burt, Regional Director, Gulf & South Asia, Mission to Seafarers.

Automation in shipping is not a new concept; many responsibilities, checks and safety functions are now carried out autonomously. But in the age of driverless vehicles and remote controlled drones, the first unmanned, autonomous ship, could be on the horizon.

It would not be the first time, complicated skill sets are delegated to artificial intelligence — aviation has undergone a similar transformation, with the role of the pilot evolving with each new generation of aircraft. However, innovations in shipping can be leveraged to address a gap, rather than requiring existing specialists to up-skill.

Part of SOMWME’s Power 60s series the Manning Update will be followed by a session on finance and law, moderated by Eithne Treanor, founder and MD of E Treanor Media and featuring Bora Bariman, Head of Energy & Marine, Corporate & Institutional Banking Group, National Bank of Fujairah; David Manuel, Senior Marine Specialist – Petrodata, IHS Markit; Knut Mathiassen, Managing Partner, NorthCape DMCC; and Tien Tai, Partner, Holman Fenwick Willan.

Elsewhere in the conference programme, discussion will turn to green and efficient vessels for the future.

Seatrade Offshore Marine & Workboats is the largest workboat and offshore marine event outside of the US, attracting more than 200 offshore marine and workboat companies.

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