The effect of autonomous systems on the crew size of ships–a case study

Carmen Kooij*, Robert Hekkenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Recently, autonomous ships have gotten a lot more attention both in the media and in research. However, very little research has focussed on the effects of automation on the size of the crew. This paper analyses the effects of added automation on the required size and composition of the crew on a 750 TEU short sea container vessel. A Crew Analysis Algorithm is used to determine the cheapest crew composition to perform the tasks required to operate a ship. Using this algorithm, two potential automation options are investigated: automating the navigation tasks and automating the mooring tasks. Automating the navigation tasks decreases the required crew size in the normal sailing and arrival & departure phases by 3 and 1 crew members, respectively. The loading & unloading phase is unaffected. Automating the mooring tasks reduces the required crew in the arrival & departure phase to 2. It is concluded that since individual automation options do not affect the crew requirements for all travel phases, their effect on crew reduction is limited unless several options are combined. However, with a change in task assignment and different training of crew members, a reduction of the required number of crew members is possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)860-876
Number of pages17
JournalMaritime Policy and Management
Volume48 (2021)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • autonomous navigation
  • Autonomous ships
  • crew reduction
  • manning
  • merchant ships


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of autonomous systems on the crew size of ships–a case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this