Waterborne platooning in the short sea shipping sector

A. Colling*, R. Hekkenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


The potential to implement the concept of waterborne platooning in the European short sea transportation system is currently being explored. In the concept, a platoon is referred to as a “Vessel Train” (VT). A VT is composed of a fully manned lead vessel and a number of follower vessels. The lead vessel takes over the navigational and situational awareness responsibilities for the follower vessels (FVs). This enables automation of the navigational tasks on these follower vessels, which in turn leads to a potential reduction in crew size and associated cost. This paper describes the economic viability of the VT concept. It is applied to a short sea case study in which a fully matured system and an early implementation stage are mimicked. The assessment shows that viability is strongly influenced by the number of crew members removed from the FVs and the departure intervals of consecutive trains. It concludes that while economically viable cases can indeed be identified, the benefits created by this VT implementation are present but not very large. This is making it questionable if a successful application of the concept can be achieved given the risk and uncertainty surrounding the individual parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102778
Number of pages14
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Reduced crew cost
  • Short sea shipping
  • Vessel train
  • Waterborne platooning


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