Trends in Ship Design

6 Great Ship Design trends to follow in 2021

The other day, I was discussing the future of ship design with a colleague.

We are definitely in the midst of the Industrial revolution 4.0 and I strongly believe that in the not so far ahead future, augmented reality and virtual intelligence will take over a significant part of the tasks of a ship design engineer now.

As I see it, we should keep an eye on the following next trends:

  1. Designers will generally be replaced by virtual Intelligence;
  2. Modern materials for use, like carbon nanotubes ;
  3. The replacement of fossil fuels engines with ones based on electricity (wind or solar-generated) or LNG engines;
  4. Substituting liquid ballast with solid ballast;
  5. Multi-purpose vessels;
  6. Autonomous vessels.

Designers will generally be replaced by virtual Intelligence

Virtual intelligence will definitely be less susceptible to design error.

This will ensure a more production-friendly design, a ship model optimized from both production/operating costs, and an environmentally friendly perspective.
Engineers will conduct the 3D review design using VR glasses in large rooms with a considerable emphasis on safety.

Modern materials for use

Although the tendency is to transition to special steels, duplex steels, I do not see why the naval industry would not adhere to the new construction material in use. Like this carbon nanotubes. There’re certainly stronger and lighter than steel. It is critical to proactively develop a strategy to overcome any production issues (like welding), make its use cost-effective, and gather the necessary know-how.

Replacement of fossil fuels engines

It’s a must. If we want to keep living on this planet and survive as a species, we most definitely must think about the future.
If we as individuals refuse to do so, others will do it anyway and will enforce it by implementing international rules and regulations (as in the case of Regulations that aim to achieve a reduction of marine and air pollution: NOx and SOx).

Solid ballast

When I graduated from college, specializing in ship design, the problem of liquid ballast was already of major importance. Think about what loading the liquid ballast ship from one corner of the world and unloading it in the opposite corner implies. Infection with non-native species causes several ecological problems and requires a real solution. Besides, due to IMO rules, the global ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) market is expected to reach USD 117.55 billion by 2025.

Multi-purpose vessels

Think of a ship as a Swiss Army knife. Why acquire more vessels when you can have only one able to perform multiple operations (aquaculture, transport, oil recovery, mining, etc.) with costs slightly above the cost of a single ship?
The sole problem with the Swiss Army knife is you will have to take turns to use the fork or the spoon.

Autonomous ships

Take a more in-depth look at the development of the autonomous cars industry, because that’s where the maritime sector is heading too. One of the major advantages is the maritime highway has no potholes and needs minimal maintenance.
While transitioning to autonomous ships, the industry will have to adapt to the digitalization era and the imminent threat of data piracy and new data security needs.

Somali pirates are soon going to be replaced by a couple of shy boys with glasses, cunningly hiding behind a top equipped computer.

And perhaps this is the reason why most classification societies are already preparing Cybersecurity rules and appropriate certifications to be implemented.

To conclude on a funnier note, if the ship designers find it hard to upskill, think about how hard it’s going be for a Somali pirate to replace his AK47 with a mouse.

Until next time, please stay positive and test negative.

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