|The funniest part to me is "SECOND EDITION".|
Now, even though the redoubtable ship-avoider himself may have passed to Fiddler's Green, it turns out that his tactical advice may find new application in our new century.
Behold the crewless ship.
|A cleverer monkey never handled a 200,000 tonne tanker via a tiny plastic joystick|
|Vada a bordo, cazzo, indeed.|
Machines don't care, and if the machine is being operated by remote or partial control, I would suggest that the person with the joystick is simply not as invested in the process as would be a crew deploying engine, anchor and trysail (or their equivalents) to keep off the rocks. Should shipping therefore become a glorified video game?
|The captain will see you now.|
|When things go wrong, one still needs a capable generalist. You can't program for the entirely novel.|
We learn in the small boat game that every convenience has a cost, and that the cost is often related to the complexity of the convenience. I find it persuasive that at this stage in human development, and during a time in which the mere removal of electricity has crippled...and continues to cripple...large swaths of the city in which we live, that "crewless ships" is going to be a helpful idea. We may be the sort of jumped-up primate that will walk into traffic while texting, leading to an entirely new class of emergency-room visits, but even as idiot monkeys unable to master their own tools, we retain a certain self-interest that has been the hallmark of a life at sea. Even a robot's life.
UPDATE 14.02.19: The future is getting closer. The robot boat Saildrone One recently completed a San Francisco to Hawai'i voyage in a reasonable (for a 19-footer) 34 days. By the current rules, were we in its general vicinity, we could raft up to it (assuming we could catch it) and claim it for salvage as it is clearly abandoned. Perhaps "pre-abandoned"?
I wonder if you are hove-to and are rammed by this thing, who do you sue for absent seamanship? O brave new world/That has such vessels in't!
UPDATE 14.03.10: For those who prefer to listen than read, here's an interesting podcast from gCaptain on the topic of "robot" ships.