Guest Blogger: Wouter Deknopper, VP & GM Maritime Business

Oceans underpin all life, and support millions of livelihoods. Keeping oceans safe is important for both humans and our ecosystem.

Most ships use Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) as their fuel. When burned, HFO produces high amounts of Nitrous Oxide (NOx) and Sulfur Oxide (SOx) emissions, in addition to Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Pollution from ships is a major concern, but one that has been largely overlooked. Shipping currently accounts for roughly 2.5 percent of global CO2 emissions, and with unchanged behavior in the industry, experts predict this figure could rise to 20 percent of emissions by 2050.

Alarmed by these numbers, the world’s shipping industry joined the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in an initiative to tackle climate issues and reduce greenhouse gases by at least 50 percent by 2050. The European Union (EU) has taken a prominent position in the fight against growing greenhouse gasses from the shipping market, recently introducing a new regulation which mandates large ships to monitor, report, and verify their emissions within EU waters. These reports are colloquially known as “NOx/SOx” reporting. Additionally, ships operating within EU, U.S., and Caribbean waters must use HFO that is lower in sulphur, which in turn will produce less SOx emissions.

The environmental impacts of global shipping also extend beyond fuel pollution. Discharging of ballast water from ships around the globe has led to invasive species of marine organisms appearing in foreign ecosystems. In order to better monitor this, regulations also require mandatory treatment of ballast water before discharging, and subsequent reporting to various maritime agencies. This was enacted with the hope that the mandatory reporting, combined with a more environmentally-friendly approach to shipping will greatly reduce the net effects of pollution caused by the shipping industry.

As an increasing amount of ships are transitioning towards digitalization, operating smartly and efficiently is no longer a choice, it’s a necessity. The requirements for efficiency are re-enforced by the low chartering rates that currently affect the profitability of the maritime transport sector. Ships are required to regularly transfer their GPS position, speed, heading, and other navigation details via the Automatic Information Service (AIS), which significantly increases the situational awareness for vessels navigating waterways. AIS has dramatically increased maritime safety since its introduction in 2002, and has enabled vessel traffic to be organized more efficiently. By applying performance monitoring techniques, as well as measuring and implementing existing and new innovative technologies, the maritime industry can greatly assist shipping companies to reduce energy consumption.

The digitalization revolution is truly underway within the maritime sector. Engines, generators, and a plethora of connected industrial equipment can produce real-time performance data. The data can then be sorted as critical or non-critical on board before transmission using edge computing devices. Critical data can be sent ashore in real-time if necessary, then used by the equipment manufacturer for Condition Based Monitoring (CBM), which ultimately allows for predictive maintenance regimes. Together, these two principles reduce the risk of unexpected equipment failures, leading to greater cost efficiencies.

Data can also be provided to third parties via the respective CANBUS interface, allowing for a complete snapshot of a vessel’s efficiency. A ship’s fuel efficiency can be affected by elements external to the engine room. For example, the ship’s hull must be cleaned regularly from fouling caused by maritime organisms, which can increase the drag of a vessel passing through water, and therefore burn more fuel. A Vessel Performance Optimisation (VPO) system will take all of these facts into account and give an efficiency rating to each ship, which defines a baseline for monitoring. Deviations from the baseline can be easily identified and quickly resolved.

Iridium Certus for Maritime

So, how does Iridium support a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable shipping industry?
The maritime digital revolution can only be enabled through cost efficient and dependable connectivity. Iridium and its global partners have built a wide range of applications and technologies to enable greener, safer, and more secure marine environments. These are reinforced by the Iridium® best-in-class global satellite network. Iridium CertusSM, enabled by the Iridium NEXT constellation, brings new possibilities to the maritime transport sector, breaking the status-quo for L-band connectivity.

The global coverage and low latency provided by Iridium make it ideal for a number of IoT devices and applications. By integrating Iridium technology, IoT devices can independently transfer their data, thus not requiring integration into the ship’s existing communication equipment. Ship business is also enhanced via Iridium Certus, with high-speed, cost-effective data services and three high-definition voice lines available. If a ship can see the sky, then Iridium satellites can see it.

Iridium Certus will be the biggest Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) revolution in decades, expanding and enhancing global maritime safety. Iridium Safety Services will provide truly global, multi-satellite maritime safety for the first time, providing GMDSS coverage beyond traditional L-band services. This includes both distress alerting services and navigational warning services. Iridium Safety Services will create an unprecedented new era for shipping, to help ensure that ships and their crew are safe for generations to come.

To learn more about Iridium Certus maritime offerings, check out the video below and visit www.IridiumCertus.com.