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Ships of change: Why seafaring needs to embrace innovation

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 09:31 authored by Prashant BhaskarPrashant Bhaskar, Stephen CahoonStephen Cahoon, Benjamin BrooksBenjamin Brooks
The modern seafarer works in an increasingly regulated environment. Whether it is navigation of the ship, operation and maintenance of machinery and equipment, or carriage of cargo, a significant amount of the modern seafarer’s work is related to compliance with prescriptive rules, regulations, guidelines and codes. These prescriptive requirements arise largely out of international conventions and codes, developed with the aim of improving safety and security of shipping, managing risk and preventing marine pollution by ships. As a consequence, seafarer training tends to produce seafarers who can scrupulously follow procedures, maintain systems, and respond predictably to shipboard emergencies. This approach results in an inflexible command and control type manner of operating ships whereby there is a preoccupation with process, but novelty and change is discouraged. However, the twenty-first century shipping company operates in an environment characterised by volatility in natural, economic and social systems. In order to be sustainable, the modern shipping company needs to be resilient to change that is dynamic, turbulent, uncertain and unpredictable in nature. Research suggests that the ability to innovate is a key determinant of resilience, and hence sustainability, of complex adaptive systems. This paper argues that seafarer training should place greater emphasis on learning, experimentation and exploration of opportunities during periods of change. The paper explores: (i) how shipboard innovation may contribute to the sustainability of shipping companies and hence the sustainability of the shipping industry itself; (ii) the barriers to shipboard innovation; and (iii) how shipboard innovation may be facilitated through education and training of seafarers.


Publication title

Proceedings of the 15th Annual general assembly International Association of Maritime Universities


D Ranmuthugala & B Lewarn






Australian Maritime College


Australian Maritime College

Place of publication

Tasmania, Australia

Event title

15th Annual general assembly International Association of Maritime Universities

Event Venue

Australian Maritime College, Launceston, Tasmania

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Rights statement

Copyright unknown

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Domestic passenger water transport (e.g. ferries)

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