We all know the enormous effect that computers have had on industries all over the world. And, one of the biggest industries that have benefitted is also one of the oldest. Humans have been taking to the seas for millennium, and little has changed – in principle – about how they do it. However, in the past few decades, the maritime industry has taken to computer technology like a duck – or a boat, rather – to water. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that computers help the seafaring trade.
Getting online communication going on a ship is much harder than it is on land – as you can imagine. However, it is possible. There are a couple of ways to access the web on a ship’s computer system. They are Mobile Satellite Services (MSS), or Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT). MSS is a mobile solution and tends to be cheaper, particularly for those vessels where communications have to be at a bare minimum. VSAT involves the installation of permanent equipment. It is used by oil rigs, fishing boats, and other working vessels as a way for the crew to contact home.
The image that everyone has of a ship’s radar is beginning to be a thing of the past. These days, you are more likely to see a complete radar system running on a Windows-based PC rather than a circular, green console. And, despite the fact that radar operators tend to trust the old method best, there are advantages. Microwave signals can amplify much smaller objects, like pirate ships, and improve detection. It’s a real help when a ship is traveling at night time.
Computers and software can also be used to detect defects in the ship or equipment. The salty and briny conditions in the sea means that all sorts of exploratory equipment can suffer from corrosion. However, these days, it is easy for crews to perform inspections from the comfort of their cabins. They can operate remote cameras and check the integrity of oil pipes, hulls, and even perform Anchor Analysis. It gives ships the chance to spot potential problems much earlier than they could in the distant past. And, it makes them a much safer environment to work in.
Management of the crew
It’s not just the ship’s communications and equipment that have benefitted from computer tech – the crew has, too. The dangers of working at sea are plain to see for most, but it has never been safer than now. The captain can use a computerized system to make sure that all staff is working the correct hours and getting enough rest. It’s also helping the crew do their jobs more easily, and, in a way, the ship’s crew are almost there in a supervisory capacity. On many ships, every action is controlled by a computer and sensors, and the crew is just there to make sure it is all ticking over nicely.
As you can see, computer tech is having an enormous impact on the maritime industry. If you have experienced any of these changes, feel free to let us know!