UK Seeks Leading Role in Emerging Maritime Technology with New 30-Year Strategy

cargo ship
Federico Rostagno / Shutterstock

The UK government on Thursday launched a 30-year strategy seeking to establish the country as a pre-eminent global test-bed for emerging technology in the maritime industry.

The new strategy, known as Maritime 2050, seeks to capitalize on the economic potential of maritime innovations. It outlines a range of short, medium and long-term proposals, including developing technology, people, and infrastructure, that officials hope will enable the country to remain a world-leader in the maritime industry for the next 30 years.

Part of the strategy includes establishing an innovation hub at a UK port by 2030, looking at ways to clean up emissions from the industry, and building on world-class training for seafarers.

According to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling already brings in about £14 billion to the UK and provides thousands of careers for people across the country.

“This strategy is a clear message to the world – we will continue to be a leading maritime nation for the next 30 years and beyond,” said Grayling. “We will be at the forefront of emerging technology and seafarer training and will capitalise on selling this expertise to companies across the world.”

Part of the strategy includes introducing new legislation for a domestic framework testing of autonomous vessels in UK waters. “The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is looking at what is needed to ensure the safety of these and other ships. This will set the UK as the best place to trial this technology which will then attract international business and investment, providing a boost to the economy,” the government said in a press release.

The government is also looking to establish a Maritime Skills Commission, which will promote virtual and augmented reality for seafarer training.

“Over the last year it has been a privilege to chair the expert panel which has brought together leaders from across the sector, from other world-class industries, academia and promotional bodies, to challenge and support the development of Maritime 2050,” said Hugh McNeal, chairman of the Maritime 2050 expert panel. “The result is a wide ranging and hugely ambitious blueprint for Britain’s future as a maritime nation ensuring the economy continues to grow successfully into the second half of the 21st century.”

“The recommendations published today will enable government and industry to work together to increase trade, attract investment and foster innovation across our thriving maritime sector, while progressing clean maritime growth,” McNeal added.

“For the first time the maritime sector has a real long term strategy – setting out what government and industry will do to position the UK as the world’s leading maritime nation over the coming decades in an increasingly competitive global context,” commented Harry Theochari, chairman of Maritime UK.