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.


UNICEF & Vanuatu Government Select Martek for UAS Vaccine Delivery Trial

The humanitarian application of ‘drones-for-good’ is a compelling use case and Martek Marine (UK) has been selected by UNICEF & the Vanuatu Government to demonstrate their capability for vaccine delivery. Martek will self-fund the trial which will take place on Efate Island from 21-25 August 2017.

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Successful aviation is all about people

Martek welcomes Ben Daniel to their rapidly growing team of aviation experts

Rotherham, UK 3rd July 2017

We are pleased to announce the latest addition to our band of aviation experts, Ben Daniel BA(Hons) PGCL MCGI. Ben joins us in late August 2017 as Chief Pilot following a distinguished career in the Royal Navy as a maritime ‘junglie’ helicopter pilot spanning a vast array of aviation arenas: embarked, arctic, desert, jungle, support helicopters, ISTAR, etc. He has been active in unmanned aviation for several years as both a Safety Risk Manager and operational Remote Pilot.

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Martek appoint leading UAS “Subject Matter Expert” as Technical Manager

Preparing to dominate the market

Martek Marine (Martek), the world authority on maritime drone applications is thrilled to announce the official appointment of drone specialist Martin Appel as UAS Technical Manager joining the rapidly expanding number of drone and aviation experts that make up the company’s UAS Division.

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Paul Forster: Martek Marine hire Head of UAV Operations with outstanding aviation experience

Martek Marine (Martek) are excited to announce the official appointment of highly-acclaimed aviation expert Paul Forster as their Head of UAV Operations. Paul brings over 30 years’ unparalleled aviation experience to Martek, in both high-profile operational and leadership roles.

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How healthy are you? Crew welfare experts offer free health tests at Sea Asia

“How healthy are you?” That’s the question that global maritime technology innovator Martek Marine is asking at Sea Asia 2017, as they invite all delegates to undertake a free health check using their new telemedicine device iVital™.

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