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Ocean Insights with Nick Brown

In a time of increasing complexity for the maritime and ocean industries, we have asked Nick Brown, Lloyd’s Register’s Marine and Offshore Director, a few questions to discover LR's unique vision of the road ahead.


Welcome to Ocean Insights – bite sized interviews with the thought leaders, innovators and business people seeking to realise the huge potential of the ocean space.


Lloyd’s Register started out in 1760 as a marine classification society. Today, Lloyd’s Register are one of the world’s leading providers of professional services for engineering and technology – improving safety and increasing the performance of critical infrastructures worldwide.

In a time of increasing complexity for the maritime and ocean industries, we have asked Nick Brown, Lloyd’s Register’s Marine and Offshore Director, a few questions to discover LR’s unique vision of the road ahead.

Ocean Insights #4
Nick Brown, Lloyd’s Register’s Marine and Offshore Director

What do you see as the greatest opportunity for the ocean industries over the next decade?
Mega-trends digitalisation and decarbonisation are driving one of the largest periods of change the maritime industry has ever seen, which is in turn offering opportunities throughout the supply chain. Developments around digitalisation and improved connectivity of systems onboard ships and between ship and shore offer some fantastic benefits to enhance safety at sea as well the environmental protection of assets. Technology also offers significant opportunities for reducing the environmental footprint of international shipping as well as the safety and welfare of people onboard.

The next decade will require collaboration across the entire maritime supply chain as the industry considers its decarbonisation options – no one individual or company can solve these challenges on their own. In confronting this transition, shipping can decide its preferred future direction rather than leaving others to determine the road ahead. This brings the requirement to share information and this tendency is not always inherent in shipping.

What do you regard as the greatest challenge?
Fully decarbonising the shipping sector is one of the biggest challenges; it has the potential to be the most disruptive transition that shipping has had to deal with. It’s a paradigm shift for an industry built on fossil-based fuel and the whole supply chain that will be affected as we move away from them. Decarbonisation also raises questions about whether the cost of shipping will increase and if so, who will pay it. If you map out all the stakeholders in the shipping value chain, you will see that decarbonisation affects everybody. No stakeholder is immune.

A key barrier is an understanding of what sustainable shipping means. There is too much of a focus on seeing it as compliance, and particularly, environmental compliance. It is more than that as investment readiness (the wider energy system and the dependable production of future fuels), technical readiness (safety), and community readiness (social impacts and understanding of other sectors) need to be taken into account. A key question that needs to be asked is – does maritime as a sector balance these three elements when assessing sustainability?

Digitalisation will play a key role in getting through these challenges. Embracing new technology and digital applications to change the way businesses in the maritime industry operate is inextricably connected to resolving complex sustainability challenges. Technologies that allow data to be managed more effectively allows shipowners to accurately measure efficiency and fuel consumption and emissions, which ultimately enables them to make more informed decisions in creating the right decarbonisation strategy.

What do you see as the unique strength of your business and how will it help you succeed?
As mentioned previously, the shipping industry is being disrupted and transformed by digitalisation and decarbonisation, which means that our customers’ needs, and our response to those needs, must continually evolve to meet the challenges and opportunities these disruptions will bring. Adapting to changes in our industry is nothing new for us, we’ve spent the last 260 years helping our customers evolve through three industrial revolutions already – and now we’re navigating the fourth. And we’ll do this by being a trusted partner, working together to keep our customers’ businesses safe, sustainable and competitive, and offering sound and balanced advice.

What key skills are you looking for in the next generation of industry professionals and how are you working to attract new talent?
Looking ahead to the next generation of industry professionals, we believe increased adoption of greater levels of autonomy in shipping will be welcomed, thus allowing technology to do what it can do best and allow crew on board to spend more time on tasks where their skills and experience can add the greatest value. As remote diagnostics and increased remote analytics of ship performance and ship operations builds on greater sensor reliability and cheaper data transmission costs, we see the role of the seafarer moving away from ‘maintenance and operation’ to a much greater focus on ‘operation’, with maintenance being carried out in planned periods by specialist teams. We see technology as a capability multiplier, a facilitator to make things better. It’s about a move to more intelligent processes, made possible by digital technologies that optimise systems and people.

There are many ways we are working to attract new talent; our people love working for an independent organisation with a strong purpose – one that’s guided by principles not profits. Through this vision, we have gained a strong reputation for doing the right thing. LR is a unique place to work – whether it’s global scope, world-class projects, our conscience-driven culture or strong sense of purpose, there are so many compelling reasons to join us, develop your skills and build a long-lasting career.

What are you most looking forward to at Nor-Shipping 2021?
If shipping is going to meet IMO’s GHG ambitions whereby zero-emission vessels need to be in the global fleet by 2030, there needs to be a clear direction on which way the fuel transition is going to go so the industry can begin developing the correct supply infrastructure. Shipping has a lot of choice and requires a strong understanding about all the fuels that could potentially answer the industry’s decarbonisation challenge. At Nor-Shipping 2021, we will provide an update on the progress we’ve made on the different potential pathways our customers can take, whilst also solving technical and safety challenges with industry stakeholders when addressing zero-emission vessels, which are improving our understanding of the likely commercial attractiveness of the different pathways.

What three words sum up your vision for the future?
Innovation, collaboration and sustainability.

Nor-Shipping 2021, Your Arena for Ocean Solutions, takes place in Oslo and Lillestrøm, 1-4 June 2021. Find out more at nor-shipping.com

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