I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind
and sometimes against it, but we must sail and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
Never remiss to incorporate wisdom of the ages for the editorial good, I found this quote — from Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, 1858 — hanging handily on the wall of my colleague, Charles Keil, on a recent visit to our office in Florida. It concisely summarizes not only the editorial content of this edition, but the various forces that have helped to shape the direction of the maritime industry today.
Often erroneously regarded as “set in its ways,” the marine market is in the midst of dynamic changes that touch its very core. Driven by corporate consolidation and international expansion, fewer, larger companies are battling for precious market share by constantly researching, developing and delivering to market engineered solutions that are designed to increase efficiency while minimizing cost. The propulsion segment is a prime example, with major diesel engine manufacturers battling each other — and more recently gas turbine manufacturers on high value, high prestige cruise ship references — by producing powerplants that are less complex and maintenance intensive, more efficient and increasingly environmentally friendly. The result: designers and owners have more flexibility and more choice.
Innovation in terms of vessel design has similarly impacted the maritime niche, as naval architects and marine engineers are increasingly empowered with new technological tools designed to make the process of designing and building better boats and ships for a lower cost. PTC, a $1-billion company with proven CAD/CAM solutions in many industries, has launched a new shipbuilding specific package.
The continued push for optimized vessel design is embodied in this month’s cover story on the Hinge Ship from Leary Engineering in New Orleans. Many patented concepts pass our editorial desks each year, some incorporated into the publication, some stashed in “future edition” limbo, and some landing in the “permanent file” (i.e. trash can). The concept was striking in that it envisages a unit capable of transiting both deep and shallow draft routes with the same vessel. While it is unlikely that the waterways of the world will anytime soon be filled with hinge ships, it is fair to say that it is this type of “out of the box” thinking that lays the foundation for progress.