Perhaps the Merchant Marine should best prepare for a maritime vasectomy where the supply of seamen is no longer required.Apparently the first of new advanced GPS satellites have already been placed in orbit; these devices could support the bandwidth needed for remote piloting of oceanic merchant vessels. I'm also thinking that missiles, sonar and signal intelligence equipment could also be placed on board. With no crew there'd less chance of security breaches.
Ship designers, their operators and regulators are gearing up for a future in which cargo vessels sail the oceans with minimal or even no crew. Advances in automation and ample bandwidth even far offshore could herald the biggest change in shipping since diesel engines replaced steam.
[...]British engine maker Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC is leading the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications initiative involving other companies and universities. It foresees technologies long used to improve commercial airline operations migrating to ships. The group also is tapping know-how from those working on driverless cars to adapt for safe at-sea autonomous operations.
A future unmanned ship could resemble some of the most advanced combat drones. It would sport infrared detectors, high-resolution cameras and laser sensors to monitor its surroundings. The vast troves of data would be transmitted to command centers where staff do little more than monitor progress and ensure ships are operating at optimum speeds.
The consortium completed a study this year that concluded such vessels are feasible and offer savings.