A Nigerian, Iorliam Simon Tersoo, has won the Future Maritime Leaders essay competition organised by the Global Maritime Forum. Tersoo’s article entitled: “Emerging Technologies: Autonomous Shipping and Seafarers’ Continuous Professional (Ir) Relevance,” was among top three essays selected from 140 shortlisted entries from 46 countries that participated in the annual competition.

Tersoo, a maritime safety officer at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, and the other two winners made compelling presentations on their essays at the ongoing Global Maritime Forum in Singapore, where the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, is a major participant. Peterside is one of three leaders in Africa invited to the exclusive industry forum, which focuses on addressing the burning issues in the maritime industry and proffering viable strategies to meet the challenges of the future.

Tersoo wrote on how to prepare the next generation of seafarers for digitalised ships, which is believed to be the future of shipping. He anchored his write-up to the bourgeoning technological innovation, Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS), which the International Maritime Organisation IMO defines as a ship which “can operate independently of human interaction.” 

His essay painted the picture of a future where ships will be fully digitalised, automated, autonomously piloted, and controlled from both onshore and offshore. He described this as the next phase of disruptive innovation in shipping.

Tersoo acknowledged the immense benefits of the autonomous shipping regime but identified a major challenge of the innovation as the threat posed to the jobs of the over 1.5 million seafarers working onboard ships worldwide. To address this challenge, he said the committee on Human Element Training and Watch-keeping (HTW) of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee MSC “will have to re-organise the curriculum of Maritime Training Institutions (MTIs) globally to embrace this new trend, tilting seafarers training more towards maritime Information Communications technology ICTand regulations that can enable them to participate effectively in the technological revolution.” He also recommended the retraining of existing seafarers to fit into the new digital era.   

Tersoo, a product of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), had worked on board a vessel and is now fully involved in regulatory duties at NIMASA. So he had the opportunity of seeing both sides of the life of a seafarer.  He attributed his success in the essay competition to the push for a knowledge driven organisation by the current leadership of NIMASA, saying he is challenged daily by leadership and innovation at the Agency.

Two other essays written by Yiqi Zhang, a 30-year-old PhD Student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China, and Line Fryd Hofmansen, a 26-year-old Management Consultant at PA Consulting Group, Denmark, were among the winning entries.

According to the Global Maritime Forum, “The competition aims to give students and young professionals aged 18-30 a voice in the debate about how the maritime industry can sustainably address maritime challenges and opportunities – and the industry a chance to listen.”

The winners of the competition won a chance to attend the Global Maritime Forum Annual Summit 2019 in Singapore, all expenses covered, together with 200 leaders from inside and outside the maritime industry, where they will represent the voice of the young generations.

“The Future Maritime Leaders essay competition represents an invaluable opportunity for young people aspiring to become the leaders of the future to meet and engage with senior maritime stakeholders,” the Global Maritime Forum added.