Stepping back from the brink

In a recent statement made by the president of the International Union of Marine Insurers he predicted that cyber attacks could soon be one of the greatest risks facing the marine industry.

The marine industry however, has thus far demonstrated a mixed approach to the threat. Some shipowners and/or operators continue to bury their heads in the sand while other are making a concerted attempt to ramp up their cyber security frameworks. Another portion are making piecemeal efforts to ensure security. Finally, according to a recent Reuters report some are contemplating stepping back from the brink into the past.

Faced with increased incidents of navigation and port disruptions, either deliberate or as the result of solar weather, some countries are looking back through the archives and coming up with radio technologies similar to the radio navigation employed as far back as the Second World War.

According to the Reuters report, leading the charge away from satellite systems are South Korea and the US. Both are investigating the possibility of employing an earth-based technology known as eLoran. Britain and Russia, too are looking at versions of the technology. It is important to point out that the aim would be to introduce eLoran as a reliable backup technology not a substitute for GPS.

The introduction of eLoran or a variant would amount to a considerable investment, so much so that many would baulk at the cost, which means that setting up a unified global coverage is unlikely without regulatory backing. The result might be coverage only across national territories and shared waterways. Interestingly this news has emerged just as classification society Lloyd’s Register has announced that it has joined a project to build the world’s biggest sailing cargo ship.


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