A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Jeremy C
Date: 2022 Jan 3, 07:20 -0800
Yes, the autopilots have come a long way since the old "iron mike" from the days of steam. Since we know where we are at all times these days, it's easier to follow GC tracks to the limit of the seaway. On a calm day we can steer to the 1/10ths of a degree which makes the office happy for fuel consumption. Of course on a rough day with heavy yaw, we are no where near that close, but we do our best. Either way the days of following RL courses for a few hundred miles between changes are quickly coming to an end.
We have a very long way to go before there are any crew-less ships making major ocean passages. Navigation is actually one of the more minor problems, as is traffic. The issue will be the details and the necessary paradigm shifting of the entire industry, extending to shore support and port operations. Sadly, I am not seeing much written about those concerns. What they will try first is have no watch standers on the bridge, just like they do in most engine rooms. This will be used as an excuse to reduce manning even further which will have far reaching consequences in crew mental health and ship upkeep. I don't want to get too far off topic however.