Category: News

Supporting the modernisation of the maritime sector through the increased adoption and integration of Industry 4.0 (or digital) technologies

We are working with the Cork Institute of Technology, Ireland (CIT) to showcase UK maritime industries on the IN 4.0 Connect platform, the online match making tool that will showcase firms and industry 4.0 Technology specialist firms across the Atlantic area of Europe. The aim of the project is to support the modernisation of the maritime sector (specifically those involved in the ship building, repair, fit out supply chain) through the increased adoption and integration of Industry 4.0 (or digital) technologies.

The portal called IN 4.0 Connect is an online match making tool that will showcase over 100 Naval/Maritime firms and 100 Industry 4.0 Technology specialist firms across 5 countries from the Atlantic Area of Europe. It will facilitate both B2B introductions and research connections between these sectors in order to promote collaboration and innovation through additional linkages between European naval and technological specialists. All you need to do to participate is to provide us with your company logo, size of the company (Small <50; Medium 50-250 or Large 250+), website address, year the company was founded (and) a short sentence (96 characters incl. spaces) describing your firm Email :

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Three shipbuilding teams shortlisted to build new warships in UK

Three shipbuilding teams have been awarded multi-million-pound contracts to push ahead with plans to build five new Type 31e warships in the UK for the Royal Navy. The Defence Minister Stuart Andrew announced that teams led by BAE Systems, Babcock and Atlas Elektronik UK have been shortlisted for the competition to build the five frigates for £1.25 billion. Each group has been awarded a contract worth up to £5 million to fund the next stage of their plans, with the preferred bidder for the design and manufacture of the ships due to announced by the end of next year. The MOD want the first ship delivered in 2023.

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Why an increased emphasis on UK maritime skills in schools and universities may not help to reduce the sector’s skills gap?

The skills gap is probably not due to an absolute shortage of skills, but to differences in the skills that are supplied and demanded. In other words, the problem is not that workers do not have skills. The problem is that the skills they have are not the skills employers want. As the UK maritime sector seeks to set up an industry-wide programme to attract young people to maritime careers, it needs to also consider why an increased emphasis on maritime skills in schools and universities may not help to reduce the sector skills gap? The sector needs to recognise that students have a choice about what skills they acquire and whether they use these skills on the job market. As long as wages in the sector do not reward certain skills, they will either chose not to acquire these skills, or even if they do, they will find employment in other occupations. Perhaps as part of its ‘Shaping our Career Ambition’ the UK maritime sector needs to identify the underlying frictions that prevent wages from reflecting skills shortages and thus closing the skills gap? So the next time someone in the maritime sector tells you about the skills gap, ask them why it does not raise wages for the type of workers that are hard to find? Is it possible that these businesses are willing to raise wages, but unable to do so? One argument along these lines that is often offered is that a firm would not be competitive anymore if it were to raise wages for scarce skills. This argument fails to convince. If all businesses in an industry experience difficulties hiring a particular skill, a firm that would raise wages for that skill above the going rate would not only attract sufficient applicants, but could potentially choose the best workers, luring them away from their competitors. It would seem that such a move would make the firm more, not less competitive.

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A Third of Fish in the Thames and Firth of Clyde have eaten plastic

A study conducted by the National History Museum has found that 28% of fish living in the Thames Estuary have eaten microplastics.

Research into the UK’s plastic pollution has also revealed that 39% of fish in the Firth of Clyde estuary in Scotland were similarly affected.
Microplastics – pieces of plastic smaller than five millimetres – are having an enormous impact on some UK estuaries and the fish that live in them. The digestive tracts of 876 fish and shrimp from the Thames and Firth of Clyde were examined. Of the 21 species investigated, 14 had microplastics in their guts.

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North East firm builds world-first cable test rig to improve subsea cable performance

North East engineering specialist Osbit Ltd has developed a bespoke, state-of-the-art cable bend fatigue test rig for the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult that will support the development, and improve the performance and reliability, of subsea cables.

Northumberland-based Osbit designed and built the 15-tonne cable fatigue test rig to ORE Catapult’s specifications. With cable-related failures accounting for up to 80% of offshore wind project insurance claims, the rig enables the innovative testing of offshore array and subsea cables to improve their efficiency and resilience, supporting the development of next generation wind farms and associated electrical infrastructure.

The development of floating wind represents an important economic opportunity for UK companies in research and development, design and manufacturing – with 4GW of installed floating wind capacity expected by 2030, representing an annual market value of £3bn. The development and qualification of dynamic cables and connectors suitable for floating wind is crucial for the development of the sector, especially as these wind farms move further from shore and are subjected to harsher conditions. The offshore renewables’ sector has identified cables as a key area for technological improvement.

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Funding secured for UK’s first hydrogen injection system on a ferry

Innovate UK have granted £430,332 of funding to design and integrate a hydrogen diesel dual fuel injection system onboard a commercial ferry. The hydrogen to be used in the project will be produced by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, from the abundance of clean renewable energy sources available on the islands and will power a ferry operating between the main town of Kirkwall and the island of Shapinsay.

Led by Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited, the project will be executed by a consortium consisting of Orkney Islands Council, High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI), the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), and Lloyds Register. The project will apply, with Ultra Low Emission Mileage Company (ULEMCo), a globally unique technology in hydrogen dual fuel and will provide a stepping stone to de-risk and kick-start future hydrogen marine projects and contribute to reducing emissions within the maritime industry.

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Maritime conference hears Cammell Laird’s vision to revive British shipbuilding and then announces 10-year RFA support contracts worth £619 million

Cammell Laird project director Tony Graham was invited to address those attending the Society and the Sea conference held at the University of Greenwich. Mr Graham leads Cammell Laird’s campaign to build five Type 31e warships for the UK Royal Navy worth an estimated £1.25billion. The conference, with the strapline Investinblue – the Values of the Ocean and Coasts for Sustainable Development, was hosted by National Maritime and the Greenwich Maritime Centre. The conference was sponsored by Lankelma. The announcement of the 10 year RFA support contract forms part of a wider £1bn deal that will secure hundreds of jobs at shipyards right across the country, which was announced by the UK Defence Minister Stuart Andrew. The deal covers 17 ships and will improve how spares, repairs and maintenance work are carried out.

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$20 bn Hybrid & Electric market by 2027

The decade will end with huge environmental pressures making owners of industrial and commercial seagoing craft clean up more rapidly. Long life of a ship will no longer be an excuse. One large ship can emit the global warming carbon dioxide of 70,000 cars, the acidic nitrogen oxides of two million cars and the carcinogenic particulates of 2.5 million cars.

The IDTechEx report looks at this highly profitable and growing sector. There are already over 100 manufacturers of electric boats and ships. The report finds that the market for hybrid and pure electric boats and ships will rise rapidly to over $20 billion worldwide in 2027 for non-military versions. Recreational boats is the largest and fastest growing electric marine market in sales number, followed by underwater leisure and autonomous underwater vehicles. On-water commercial marine category is currently the largest marine EV value market. Leisure craft on inland waterways, notably in the USA and Europe, will become the largest sector as more places from Germany to India ban internal combustion engines or, as with SunMoon Lake in Taiwan, the operators unanimously agree to go clean and quiet.

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What is the potential impact of Brexit on the Maritime Industry?

Negotiations for Brexit have been a long time in the making and Britain is still uncertain as to what the outcome may constitute. However, the majority seem to be in the agreement that the repercussions of a no-deal outcome could be catastrophic for UK businesses across the country.

The Maritime Industry has made it clear they’re hoping for an agreement to be made. The industry does not take the opinion that no-deal is better than any deal and have in-fact called for a potential extension to Brexit talks to avoid the risk of a no-deal outcome. The repercussions of waiting for a settlement to be reached is the delay of any advance preparations required to prepare for any potential changes which may impact the industry.

Simmonds is currently in the process of writing up technical advice documents on Brexit and how to deal with it, however, they are finding it difficult due to the uncertainty surrounding the decision. With no-one knowing the outcome of future talks, it’s impossible to make a clear plan to work around the impact.

Consequences of a ‘no-deal’ outcome

A no-deal outcome could cause disruption at ports including Dover, Holyhead and Portsmouth and could also have an impact on EU ports like Calais. It has been predicted that already congested ports, such as Dover, could face permanent traffic jams up to 20 miles long unless EU proposals are met in Brexit talks. In the worst case scenario, lorry drivers could be stuck in queues for the port up to days on end.
Disruptions could affect supply chains and minsters have predicted that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Britain may well need to stockpile food, medicines and other supplies to prepare against the repercussions of this. With 50% of the nation’s food, 80% of our fresh vegetables and 30% of our fresh fruit imported from the EU and Ireland, this could have a huge impact on how Britain’s food industry currently operates.

It has been predicted that British ports and shipping companies will need at least three years to devise a new customs system in the event of a no-deal Brexit, including new IT systems, retraining of staff and a brand new infrastructure. It also needs to be ensured that customs systems are aligned with the rest of the EU, so one country’s way of working isn’t hit by the red tape of the UK, or vice versa.

All in all, the shipping industry agrees that a no-deal scenario would not be positive for the maritime shipping industry in the short term and the long-term effects are uncertain.

What happens once an agreement has been reached?

The maritime industry agrees that Brexit will have significant positive and negative impacts on the shipping industry in particular. A ‘hard Brexit’ will bring with it increased trade hurdles, a consequence already being prepared for by ports such as Zeebrugge, Rotterdam and Calais who have already hired more customs officials and produce inspectors and are already predicting a likely need to hire more agents in the future.

It’s believed that Brexit will bring with it a temporary slowdown in growth/trade. It is too early to say what the impact of Brexit on maritime trade will be in the long term, but it is thought to be improbable that Brexit will have a substantial bearing on overall UK maritime volumes.
There are also potential negative repercussions from any restrictions placed on immigration pending Brexit talks. The UK relies greatly on skilled people from across the globe, and if their right to remain is called into question and it becomes harder to live and work in the UK, this could limit the number of European citizens wanting to work within the UK maritime sector. This could seriously harm the UK shipping cluster.

Opportunities in the future

Whilst Brexit is certain to impact the maritime industry, no matter what decision is made, it isn’t all predicted to be doom and gloom. The industry is foreseeing a new or improved bilateral trade agreement between the UK and countries such as India, the US, Canada and South American countries. When in the EU, the UK government needed to get consensus approval from 27 EU countries when striking agreements with countries such as India, so Brexit will give them the chance to create agreements independently – opening a lot more scope for the countries the UK can operate with. Furthermore, politicians in Australia have already agreed to discuss a bilateral deal.

The government is working with the industry to deliver an ambitious export plan which they believe will put the UK as global front-runners in the shipping industry. This plan includes doubling the number of apprenticeships that maritime companies currently offer, working with industry partners to grow the sector and developing new trade opportunities, in-turn creating more jobs across the UK. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling believes Brexit can help the UK to ‘rediscover our heritage as a truly global, seafaring, trading nation.’

Safeguard’s assurance to you

Safeguard believes in supporting industries during this period of uncertainty, having built our reputation on tackling unusual or uncommon risks. This is why we’re offering a reduction of 15% off your current insurance*, for all new maritime customers.

Contact us today on 01322 337557 or email

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