Photo: Sea Machines

Maritime union joins Sea Machines’ 1,000 NM autonomous voyage

In a first between a maritime union and an autonomous technology company, American Maritime Officers (AMO) has entered into a labor agreement with Sea Machines Robotics, a developer of autonomous command and control systems.

As explained, the partnership signals the recognition by both entities that a prosperous future for the maritime sector is built on a firm relationship among workers, technology and business.

In the collaboration, AMO-represented U.S. Coast Guard-licensed officers are supporting Sea Machines’ first-of-its-kind 1,000 NM autonomous voyage around Denmark.

Named The Machine Odyssey, the voyage marks a pivotal moment for autonomous transportation and is slated to prove that the world’s waterways are primed and ready for long-range autonomy.

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AMO officers will command the Nellie Bly on its autonomous voyage remotely from Sea Machines’ Boston-based control center. The officers received training prior to the voyage kick-off and have support from the Sea Machines’ engineering teams in Boston and Hamburg throughout the estimated three-week program. Additionally, the Nellie Bly will always carry two onboard safety captains, with occasional guest passengers, and will call on ports along the route to display and demonstrate the technology.

Maritime union
Deck officers Bridget Quinn and Adam Szloch remotely command the autonomous NELLIE BLY in Denmark from Sea Machines’ Boston control room. Photo: Sea Machines

Known as the source for U.S. Coast Guard licensed merchant marine officers in all shipboard departments and shipping trades, AMO is taking the strategic step to ensure the merchant marine officers it represents can continue to have a secure role in an evolving industry as new technology is developed and applied.

“AMO is working to anticipate and prepare for the future of the maritime industry, understanding the implementation of the technology will happen in the not-so-distant future. Failure to prepare for the future means failure to participate in it. Through this agreement, AMO is working to set careers for future generations of merchant mariners,” William Barrere, AMO National Executive Vice President Captain, commented.

“AMO is committed to ensuring the human element – particularly the expertise of U.S. merchant mariners earned through extensive experience and comprehensive training at industry-leading facilities, such as STAR Center – remains a key component of maritime transportation to ensure safe navigation, sustained mariner employment and the reliable operation of onboard equipment and systems.”

Since its inception in 2015, Sea Machines has always been on a mission to create technologies that provide new operational methodologies, increase operational productivity and predictability, and increase at-sea safety for mariners. Sea Machines and AMO share the goal of ensuring the safe and effective operation of vessels as increasing levels of automation continue to be applied throughout an active industry.

“Sea Machines is built by a team of mariners … and operates with a mission to uplift and expand marine industries with technology,” Michael Johnson, Sea Machines’ CEO, said.

“We envision a future in which autonomous technology can expand the world’s fleets and waterborne transportation systems, make transport over water more versatile and competitive with other modes of transportation, and expand the maritime workforce through growth in the industry, ultimately creating jobs. We’re pleased to be working with AMO on this pioneering voyage toward the expansion of our industry.”