Industry News




Sea Machines raises funding to further develop autonomous technology

US-based maritime autonomous technology developer Sea Machines Robotics has raised $10m in a Series A investment round to develop advanced situational awareness systems for vessels.

The funding round was led by Accomplice and Eniac Ventures. It was also joined by Toyota AI Ventures and Brunswick.

The latest financing has brought the total amount of investment raised by Sea Machines to $12.5m.

Sea Machines plans to use the new funds to expand the sales and global presence of its new products, bolster R&D and engineering teams, as well as launch new product feature sets.

Sea Machines founder and CEO Michael Gordon Johnson said: “We are creating the technology that propels the future of the marine industries.

“This investment enables us to double down on our commitment to building advanced command and control products that make the industry more capable, productive and profitable.

“This backing is another signal that Sea Machines is the unquestioned leader in the space and is playing an integral role in the revolution of marine and maritime operations driven by technology.”

Currently, Sea Machines is developing new advanced perception and navigation assistance technology for multiple vessel types, including container ships.

The company aims to begin testing the technology on-board an AP Moller-Maersk’s new-build ice-class container ships by the first quarter of next year.

Toyota AI Ventures founding managing director Jim Adler said: “Sea Machines’ autonomous technology and advanced perception systems can reduce costs, improve efficiency and enhance safety in the multi-billion dollar commercial shipping industry.

“This marks our first investment in the maritime industry, and we’re excited to embark on this journey with Sea Machines.”

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, US, Toyota AI Ventures is a subsidiary of Toyota Research Institute (TRI).

Titan LNG artist impression of FlexFueler manoeuvring with pusher. Image courtesy of Titan LNG




SAINTS launches digital technology project to boost UK’s ports

Situational Awareness Information National Technology Service (SAINTS) has launched a project that seeks to pilot smart digital initiatives to help increase trade and economic growth in ports located in North East England.

Port of Berwick, Port of Blyth, Port of Sunderland, Teesport, Port of Tyne, as well as digital and industry experts, academia, and regional authorities are part of the new Smart Port North East Testbed project.

Partners are expected to test scalable, satellite-based smart solutions that will work within a larger programme to identify four key outcomes for the North East ports.

The proposed outcomes include new business opportunities and hinterland engagement, promoting the expansion of green energy and low-carbon solutions, improved customer experiences, as well as operational excellence and security in and around the port.

The region currently boasts a growing space cluster with support from the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence in NETPark, Sedgefield, England. The centre is operated by County Durham’s economic development organisation Business Durham.

The North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence, along with a group of companies, recently launched SAINTS to use data from satellites and Earth-based sensors to solve major problems faced by businesses, governments and communities.

Business Durham Innovation director Catherine Johns said: “Ports play a vital role in the regional and national economy, providing trading gateways to the rest of the world, with a massive impact on local supply chains and communities.

“The launch of SAINTS illustrates the important role the region’s fast-growing satellite and space sector can play in finding solutions to local issues and developing them to solve global problems in a sustainable way.

“The test bed provides an opportunity to pool the knowledge built up in one of our longest established industries with that of one of our newest.”

Smart Port North East Testbed is designed to examine multiple technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, unmanned marine vessels, and airborne drones for use in port environments.

Bilge technology. Image courtesy of PRNewsfoto / Nautic Alert




Containerships receives first LNG-fuelled ship

CMA CGM subsidiary Containerships has received its first LNG-fuelled vessel, named M/S Containerships Nord, at Wenchong Shipyard in China.

The vessel has started its journey from China to Europe to serve the European port and trade.

Containerships Nord is the first of four new LNG-powered vessels to be operated by the company. Delivery of the remaining vessels is scheduled to take place in the first half of next year.

The four vessels have a 1,400 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) capacity.

Construction of Containerships Nord and its sister vessels is based on a decision taken by Containerships in 2013 on the addition of environmentally friendly LNG-powered vessels into its fleet.

Containerships CEO Kari-Pekka Laaksonen said: “By taking this decision, we accepted the challenge of building with a new technology. It has been a rewarding project full of learning opportunities.

“This project has required high levels of expertise and constant development. Success requires excellent co-operation between the involved parties.”

Containerships’ LNG-concept revolves around sea to land and aims to establish a complete, LNG-based door-to-door supply chain across Europe.

The company also intends to expand the capacity of LNG-powered transport on land logistics by investing in LNG-fuelled trucks.

Until the delivery of the three additional LNG-powered ships, Containerships’ parent company CMA CGM will sublet Containerships Nord for its trade lanes.

According to Containerships, use of LNG across the logistics supply chain saves up to 25% on contribution to global warming compared to traditional multimodal transportation.




University of Birmingham receives grant for shipping emissions research

A group of scientists at the University of Birmingham have secured a £1.6m grant from the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council to lead a research project that aims to study shipping emissions in the Arctic and North Atlantic Atmosphere (ANAA).

The Shipping Emissions in the Arctic and North Atlantic Atmosphere (SEANA) project is scheduled to begin next year for a period of five years.

SEANA will study the impact of growing shipping activities in the Arctic region.

It will also investigate the impact of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) emission regulation on atmospheric aerosols and the climate in ANAA.

University of Birmingham SEANA lead investigator Dr Zongbo Shi said: “The new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulation will be implemented in January 2020 to reduce the maximum fuel sulphur content by ships in international waters from 3.5% to 0.5%.

“This offers an unprecedented and never-again opportunity to observe how our atmosphere responds to this major ‘natural’ perturbation. Such observations will significantly enhance our understanding of the role that shipping emissions play in the wider climate change debate.

“This will help us to validate and improve global climate models to more accurately predict climate change and to find out how we can best tackle this issue.”

As part of SEANA, the researchers will perform 12-month synergistic observations at Faroe Islands and Greenland, as well as conduct field studies on research ships along the Northwest Passage (NWP), on the sources and processes of aerosol and cloud condensation nuclei (CNN).

The resulting data from the project will be combined with the measurements generated by the current ANAA stations in order to create a benchmark dataset on aerosol baselines in ANAA.

They will also be used to analyse and improve a global aerosol model for key aerosol sources and processes such as shipping emissions and model responses to changes in ANAA.

The SEANA project includes ten partners from across the globe, including Faroe Islands Environment Agency, Korea Polar Research Institute, Stockholm University, and others.

Sonardyne MSM Ranger 2. Image courtesy of Sonardyne




US DOT awards $229.23m to 14 port-related projects

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded a $229.23m grant to 14 port-related projects.

The grant is part of USDOT’s $1.5bn discretionary funding programme for 91 projects in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The grant is made under this year’s Better Utilising Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) programme that supports road, rail, transit, and port infrastructure projects across the US.

According to American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) president and CEO Kurt Nagle, the US’ seaports should be key components of USDOT’s BUILD discretionary grants programme as they play an important role in shipping goods, sustaining jobs and boosting the economy.

Nagle said: “BUILD grants are one of the few federal funding programmes available to public port authorities to help them pay for critical infrastructure to move and handle freight more efficiently.

“The $229m in port-related awards will help leverage nearly $412m in total project costs.

“Projects that aid the movement of goods through America’s ports should be a high priority for these federal grants, and port-related projects should be among the leading candidates. It’s also important that projects from the full range of port sizes and types receive grant awards in any future rounds of BUILD funding.”

Of the $229.23m grant awarded to the 14 port-related projects, the highest amount of funding ($25m) will be provided to the South Carolina Department of Transportation to support the Upstate Express Corridor Capacity Expansion Project.

The City of Emmonak will receive $23.17m for its Lower Yukon River Regional Port and Road Renovation Project.

Delaware River and Bay Authority, Port of Port Arthur, Port of Coos Bay, and others will also receive funding from the $229.23m grant.

Miranda Sagel, manager of the Harbour Coordination Centre, christens RPA 8. Image courtesy of Ries van Wendel de Joode




Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative introduces online platform

The online platform of Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative (SRTI) has been launched with an aim to better share information on shipping companies’ recycling policies and practices.

The platform is designed for the ship owners to share data on their ship recycling process across a number of disclosure criteria.

It will allow customers, cargo owners, investors, financial stakeholders, as well as the general public to obtain and use the shared information to decide on their vessel recycling practice.

Various entities involved in the maritime and financial sectors, including Wallenius Wilhelmsen, The China Navigation Company, Hapag Lloyd, AP Moeller-Maersk, Standard Chartered Bank, Lloyd’s Register, are among the founding members of SRTI.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen president and CEO Craig Jasienski said: “The Ship Recycling Transparency Initiative empowers those who invest in or buy services from shipping companies to make informed decisions on vessel recycling.

“With the SRTI, they can demand transparency, helping them ensure they do business with companies that recycle responsibly, rather than those who continue with practices that have horrifying human and environmental consequences.

“It is unthinkable that change won’t be driven with such knowledge. It also sends a clear signal to tonnage providers on the new normal.”

According to Wallenius Wilhelmsen, ship owners, ship recyclers and other stakeholders in the shipping value chain follow different approaches to ship recycling.

Lack of information on these approaches has restricted the ability of investors to make informed decisions to address risks when using ships as collateral for loans or when seeking fund for shipbuilding.

It also made it difficult for cargo owners while guaranteeing their relation with vessels that do not recycle responsibly.

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Australian watchdog starts legal proceedings against NSW Ports

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has initiated legal proceedings against NSW Ports Operations for entering alleged anti-competitive agreements with the New South Wales (NSW) Government.

The proceedings have been initiated in Australia’s federal court and are directed against NSW Ports Operations and its subsidiaries Port Botany Operations and Port Kembla Operations.

In May 2013, the Government of NSW privatised Port Botany and Port Kembla for a period of 50 years.

As per the Botany and Kembla Port Commitment Deeds, the State of NSW must compensate the operators of Port Botany and Port Kembla if container traffic at the Port of Newcastle goes beyond a specific limit.

ACCC in its lawsuit has alleged that the provisions of the Botany and Kembla Port Commitment Deeds are likely to prevent or delay the development of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle.

The deed could substantially reduce competition, said ACCC.

A separate 50-year deed, signed in May 2014 at the time of privatisation of the Port of Newcastle, mandated the Port of Newcastle to reimburse the State of NSW for any compensation paid to operators of Port Botany and Port Kembla.

This provision was also mentioned in the Botany and Kembla Port Commitment Deeds.

ACCC Chair Rod Sims said: “We are alleging that making these agreements containing provisions, which would effectively compensate Port Kembla and Port Botany if the Port of Newcastle developed a container terminal, is anti-competitive and illegal.”

Sims further added: “The compensation and reimbursement provisions effectively mean that the Port of Newcastle would be financially punished for sending or receiving container cargo above a minimal level if Port Botany and Port Kembla have spare capacity.

“This makes development of a container terminal at the Port of Newcastle uneconomic.”

In its legal proceedings, the ACCC has sought declarations that the compensation provisions in the 2013 Port Commitment Deeds breach the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA).

ACCC has requested injunctions on the operators of Port Botany and Port Kembla from seeking compensation under the provisions of the deed.

Caption. Image courtesy of 




HyperloopTT and HHLA to address shipping industry problems

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT / HTT) has formed a new joint venture (JV) with Hamburger Hafen und Logistik Aktiengesellschaft (HHLA) to address multiple issues faced by the shipping industry.

The JV will aim to combine new container movement innovations with hyperloop technology for use in the Port of Hamburg, which is operated by HHLA.

The company is also expected to bring this new technology to ports, shipping, and logistics companies across the globe.

HyperloopTT CEO and co-founder Dirk Ahlborn said: “HHLA has a long history of innovation.

“Years before, we were talking about self-driving vehicles and containers moved autonomously in Hamburg.

“Together, we will develop a complete system that not only concentrates on speed and efficiency, but also takes into account the issues ports face in daily operation.”

The new JV will look to develop and launch a Hyperloop transport system for seaport and inland shipping container operations.

At the outset, a study will be conducted to examine the feasibility of connecting a cargo-based Hyperloop system from an HHLA container terminal to container yards situated further inland.

This planned project is anticipated to reduce congestion within the port and the city, as well as minimise the port’s carbon footprint.

The JV also plans to build a transfer station for testing at a HHLA terminal in Hamburg, Germany. It further expects to develop an initial 100m cargo route along with a special freight capsule and loading dock.

HHLA Executive Board chairwoman Angela Titzrath said: “With the Hyperloop transport system, HHLA is pursuing the goal of developing an additional component of efficient logistic mobility solutions in Germany.

“As a gateway to the future, we want to employ innovative approaches to make a contribution towards relieving the strain on the transport infrastructure in and around the Port of Hamburg, and to use the capacities of our terminal facilities in an even more efficient way.”

As part of the company’s effort in port innovations, HHLA incorporated self-driving vehicles into daily operation in 2001, among other initiatives.

Caption. Image courtesy of