Automation for Maritime: The Future of Shipping and Ports

Automation is only going one way. How will it impact you?

It’s estimated that tens of thousands of dollars could be saved each day by introducing automation to a single container vessel – but is this realistically on the horizon?

We’ve spoken at length about drones being used in the future, but what about ships and ports?


Container cranes at Maasvlakte 2 are unmanned and pretty much fully automated. Aside from a few small processes, the whole operation is managed by computers.

Moving forward, this could be used on a larger scale to speed up the shipping supply chain process, but there are some concerns. Digital errors, unchecked by human eyes could cause damage or harm. There’s also the risk of criminals hacking into the system.

Automated ship
Zero emissions and zero human interaction


Entirely unmanned, or hosting a small skeleton crew, self-piloting and self-managing – possibly out for testing later this year.

The YARA Birkeland Autonomous Container Vessel plans to be operational on a sea route between Brevik, Herøya and Larvik ports in southern Norway by 2020.

The ship’s navigation and autonomous operations will be supported by a number of proximity sensors, including a radar, a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) device, an automatic identification system (AIS), an imaging system and an infrared (IR) camera.

As well as shipping, there are plans for autonomous cruise ships too.

The looming downside is, of course, a lack of jobs which will impact the shipping industry. That’s not to say this will see jobs lost immediately, with ships like the YARA Birkeland costing three times more than a similar sized conventional ship, and plenty of regulatory and legal requirements to iron out, we don’t expect to see fully autonomous shipping just yet.

Martek Marine will continue our mission to revolutionise ship safety, performance and crew welfare. Where automation is a benefit for the industry as a whole, you can guarantee we’ll be leading the way.

Drones Shot Down By Russian Military

Fighters in the de-escalation zone in Idlib, Syria, launched two drones with then intent to attack Russian forces.

According to the Russian defence ministry, two Syrian rebel drones were shot down near the Hmeinmim base.

“During the past day, radars of the Russian airbase at Hmeimim spotted two unmanned aerial vehicles launched from the Idlib de-escalation zone controlled by illegal armed groups,” chief of the Russia Centre for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties Alexei Tsygankov

The drones were detected by the airbases radar systems, and anti-air missile defence systems down the unmanned craft.

With the Russian spokesperson claiming these drones were detected by radar systems and downed using missile systems, this would imply the drones were not the small hobby aircraft which has been identified as a threat recently.

Armed “hobby drones” are a particular threat to undefended ports or ships due to their ease of use, low cost of entry and capabilities.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group claims five drones were shot down when approaching the Russian military base on 14th August. The group went on to claim this was the fifth time in as many days that drones have been downed on approach to the Russian base.

A small drone was able to land undetected on HMS Queen Elizabeth last year. Security only became aware of the incident when the pilot reported what had happened to the staff at the port entrance.

Commercial drones have been used extensively by groups in conflicts around the world – mainly for reconnaissance.

The Ukranian army pays for images taken from civilian drone users in their battle with pro-Russian forces. Without these over the counter drones, the Ukranian forces would be blind.

“Military drones have a great future,” Says Aleksandr, who runs a volunteer drone repairs from Kiev. “Drones have no fear and are capable of executing almost any task the army requires. That’s something the government should think about.” He is convinced that, in the future, wars will be fought with unmanned aerial vehicles.

With £900 drones being used in war zones in recce/weaponised roles, it is only a matter of time before this practice becomes more and more common in more heavily populated areas. Unfortunately, it seem’s like an obvious tool for terror organisations to access.

To combat these emerging drone threats Martek Marine have developed the M.A.D.S ™ maritime anti-drone system.

M.A.D.S ™ detects and identifies commercial drones within a 5+km range, providing GPS positioning of both drone & pilot together with the drone’s speed & heading. Configurable and escalating stage alarms in real time allow the threat level to be assessed in good time to decide on appropriate defence actions.

Click here to find out how M.A.D.S ™ can play a role in your future protection.

Martek Announce New Head of Counter-Drone Technology M.A.D.S

Martek Marine is pleased to announce the official appointment of Erik van Wilsum as Head of M.A.D.STM, the marine anti-drone system. Erik brings a wealth of insightful knowledge and expertise from a variety of roles ranging across the power electronics and counter UAS industries. His passion for the maritime industry coupled with his experience of product development sets him up for abundant success at Martek.

Recent years have seen a massive advance in drone endurance, range and payload capacity whilst the price has also plummeted, leading to a proliferation of drones expected to reach 12million by 2020. With the recent assassination attempt of the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the world is now recognising the threat that Martek has been working to counter through drone detection and defeat technologies.

M.A.D.STM detects and identifies commercial drones within a 5+km range, providing GPS positioning of both drone & pilot together with the drone’s speed & heading. Configurable and escalating stage alarms in real time allow the threat level to be assessed in good time.

Once a real drone threat has been established, the system enables a 500m+ electronic ‘exclusion zone’ to be created around the yacht. Should the drone approach this exclusion zone, its control/video signal will be blocked, initiating its fail-safe mode forcing it to land or return to its operator.

Erik will lead this market-dominating counter-drone technology at a time where the threat of drones is a global reality.  “I’m looking forward to leading this pioneering system which will be pivotal in countering the current undefendable threat drones have on privacy invasion, intellectual property and crew welfare. The technology and team behind M.A.D.STM are focused on providing the best-in-world system to target the present drone threat. My aim is to demonstrate M.A.D.STM capabilities as the market leading counter drone technology for the superyacht, maritime and port industries”, says Erik.

To hear from Erik click here.


Sir Ranulph Fiennes owes life to AED

“I had absolutely no indication anything was wrong until I woke up in a hospital bed and was told I’d suffered a heart attack. Before that there had been no obvious signs – I hadn’t experienced any pain and was living my life as normal.”

Sir Ranulph Fiennes is no stranger to entering the unknown and is described by the Guinness Book of Records as the greatest living explorer.

He was one of the first people in the world to walk across the Antarctic unaided in some of the most unforgiving surroundings.

To achieve such an amazing goal takes the ultimate level of fitness, stamina and determination, and when you think of someone like Sir Ranulph; you think of a healthy person ready to take the world on. However, on 7th June 2003, Sir Ranulph‘s life took somewhat of an unexpected course into unknown territory.
Sir Ranulph was boarding a flight to Edinburgh at Bristol Airport when he suffered a massive heart attack, just before the plane took off.

Luckily for Sir Ranulph, the emergency fire services who attended to this incident had an AED, which saved his life. Sir Ranulph went on from here to have double heart-bypass surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Following the incident, Sir Ranulph commented on his escape:
“I was extremely lucky that a mobile defibrillating unit and the expert assistance of the Blue Watch of the Bristol Airport Fire Station were immediately on the scene.”
“I had absolutely no indication anything was wrong until I woke up in a hospital bed and was told I’d suffered a heart attack. Before that there had been no obvious signs – I hadn’t experienced any pain and was living my life as normal.”

AED on board
Are you within 4 minutes of an AED?

Sir Ranulph was one of the lucky ones to survive an SCA, as one of his fellow passengers was a nurse and they managed to get a defibrillator to him within 4 minutes. It would have been a very different picture now had the AED not been available.

Sir Ranulph has since gone on to conquer many more challenges, even running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days for the British Heart Foundation, just 4 months after his operation. Sir Ranulph has pledged to take an AED with him on all his future expeditions as standard and believes that such a small piece of kit should be available in all public places.

After all, he is only alive now because an AED was at the airport.

If you want to improve your chances against SCA you need to know the facts. We’ve put together this e-book with everything you need to know to improve your chance of survival.

Where’s your nearest AED? If it’s more than 4 minutes away, you need to click here.

We are not prepared for exploding drones

The recent attack on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was the first attack on an official by weaponised drones.

Terror and criminal use of drones are well documented, but this has mainly been isolated to the war-torn Middle East, prisons and a few none lethal examples in Mexico and the US.

It wasn’t widely documented, but a drone was used to land a ZMG-1 thermite grenade on a Ukrainian weapons dump, causing $1 billion in damage.

A similar attempt to blow up the Balakliya base took place in December 2015, when drones dropped 14 grenades. Fires were extinguished by Ukrainian servicemen, and one grenade, a ZMG-1, was recovered.

An attack on an ammunition depot at Svatovo destroyed 3,000 tons of explosives and damaged 1,700 nearby homes.

In 2016, two French Special Forces soldiers were injured and two Kurdish fighters were killed by an exploding ISIS drone. ISIS has conducted numerous drone attacks during the Mosul campaign and terrorism experts fear weaponized drones could spread outside conflict zones.

“I think we do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones”

“We’ve seen that overseas already with growing frequency. I think the expectation is that it’s coming here imminently.” said the director of the FBI when addressing the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
“I think they are relatively easy to acquire, relatively easy to operate, and quite difficult to disrupt and monitor.”

The fact is, this threat is sophisticating faster than many organisations can counter it. Government and military sites, nuclear plants, sporting events, ports and ships, tourist hot spots… nothing is currently equipped to counter the threat of weaponised drones.

Did you know most locations purchase First Aid equipment, such as defibrillators, AFTER a person has died?

We are very much a reactive breed, reeling from the damages and hopefully preventing them from happening again.
But what if we were pre-emptive? What if we prepared so well that terrorist drone threat became redundant?

The technology is here – but we must start now.

Young footballers are dying from heart problems at a higher rate than was previously thought.

20 years of heart screening data, taken from footballers aged 16 on the verge of turning pro, has shown that most died about seven years after a heart check that showed no problem.

As a result, the FA has increased the number of cardiac assessments for young footballers from one to three

Cameroonian international Marc-Vivien Foé, 28, played in the Premier League. The midfielder collapsed while playing for his country against Colombia in France during the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. An autopsy found he had a hereditary heart condition.

Bolton Wanderers star Fabrice Muamba, 23, had a cardiac arrest on the pitch during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur and nearly died.

Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited diseases and sports cardiology at St George’s University of London and chair of the expert cardiac committee of the Football Association, led the data review.

The results found a death rate of one in 14,700 rather than the previous estimates of on in 200,000.

Between 1997 and 2016, more than 11,000 players filled in a health questionnaire and were given a physical examination, 12-lead ECG and echocardiography. Of these players, 42 (0.38%) had cardiac diseases that could cause sudden cardiac death. Hardly any had symptoms of any sort.

Footballers are among some of the fittest athletes in the world. Their fitness regime, diet and lifestyle are all carefully considered and programmed by teams of specialists.

How does your lifestyle stack up in comparison to these athletes, who are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)?

If the worst should happen, is there an AED within 10 minutes of where you are right now? Without that, your chances of survival are around 1%.

Martek Marine’s Lifeforce is MARINE GL TYPE-APPROVED and is the world’s simplest AED to use – exactly what’s needed in an emergency situation.

Click here for more information on Lifeforce.

Why you need regular services from approved technicians

Last week, we spoke about how ‘pirate’ parts are voiding type approval, but what about if you’ve made sure you buy legitimate parts?

What’s the next step in ensuring your equipment isn’t going to let you down?

Regular servicing.
Approved engineers.

Simple. You knew that, but not everybody actions it. Here’s why it’s important.

Continue reading “Why you need regular services from approved technicians”

A Drone Wielding Terrorist in just 30 minutes

Having written quite extensively about the threat of a drone being used to attack people and infrastructure, I wanted to investigate just how easy it was to use these “hobby craft” for no good.

Drone Presidential Attack
Alleged footage from the Presidential drone attack shows a drone hover before exploding

Since coming up with the idea to write this article, there was an alleged drone attack on the Venezuelan President whilst giving a speech at a military parade. On the live feed, the president and his wife looked startled staring into the sky, then there were audible explosions and the crowd could be seen running.

Continue reading “A Drone Wielding Terrorist in just 30 minutes”

Fake parts are voiding type approvals and not meeting legislation.

VOID: TYPE Approval

Buy cheap, buy twice. We’ve all heard it and it’s often lurking in the back of your mind when making a purchasing decision.

Sometimes, there’s that temptation.

You’ve got a tight budget.
You’ve been asked to streamline spending.
You’re eager to meet targets.

But, you don’t want an explosion on your vessel.

Continue reading “Fake parts are voiding type approvals and not meeting legislation.”