Webinar Autonomous Ships: A World of Opportunities and Exciting Challenges


Maritime transport faces several challenges: decarbonisation, digitalisation and automation, as well as training, recruitment and retention of highly qualified personnel. With due regard for maritime safety and security and the integrity of the regulatory framework, autonomous ships are part of a sustainable solution for a sector that is responsible for 85% of world trade.


Therefore, a webinar on tackling autonomous ships will take place on Tuesday 22 June, starting at 13:00 CEST (12:00 GMT).




We will discuss the required regulatory framework and outline various pilot projects. Special attention will be paid to technological preconditions and autonomous applications required for appropriate digital support. The Royal Belgian Shipowners' Association will also share its expectations on operating autonomous ships.


This webinar is organized by FPS Mobility and Transport on the initiative of the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister of the North Sea, Vincent Van Quickenborne: "With this webinar, our country once again proves the leading role of the Belgian maritime sector at a global level. With the new legal framework, we now enable pilot projects with autonomous vessels. This will give a boost to the various Belgian companies investing in this technology. We will also be laying the foundations for a regulatory framework on an international level."



Practical information


You can find the programme here:







Sophie Mirgaux


Introduction by the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the North Sea

Vincent Van Quickenborne


MASS national regulation: drafting of a first Belgian legal instrument dedicated to autonomous shipping in order to strengthen the regulatory framework while facilitating the approval process and providing for the possibility to register an unmanned vessel


Aline Douxfils (FPS Mobility & Transport)



Introduction Pilot Projects

Marc Nuytemans (The Blue Cluster)



Project 1: dotOcean: development of control systems for autonomous navigation of vessels and advanced situational awareness software for the maritime and defence industry.

Koen Geirnaert (dotOcean)



Project 2: development of an unmanned system that includes the USV and the required software. Providing the Belgian and Dutch naval forces with a comprehensive, integrated and cyber-secure solution to be deployed by mine hunters.



Steven Luys (ECA Robotics Belgium)



Project 3: SeaHub: Vessel-to-vessel and vessel-to-shore communication: Creating an offshore experience onshore. Reliable VoIP, livestreaming and file sharing.





Mitch De Geest (CityMesh)



Project 4:  Seafar: development and design of Shore Control Center that supports and operates automated vessels remotely.

Louis-Robert Cool (Seafar)




Expectations from the shipowners

Wouter Eyckmans (Deme)

Catrien Scheers (Fast Lines)

Wilfried Lemmens (Royal Belgian Shipowners Association)



Marc Nuytemans (The Blue Cluster)


Concluding remarks

Jean-Baptiste Merveille (FPS Mobility & Transport)



Sophie Mirgaux



Speaker's Biographies: 


Sophie Mirgaux : 

Belgium's Special Envoy for the Ocean at Belgian Government

As part of the Belgian Federal Public Service of Environment, Sophie negotiates international marine biodiversity and sustainable development agreements, specifically within the European Union and United Nations frameworks.


Vincent Van Quickenborne

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the North Sea


Aline Douxfils:

Legal advisor at the Directorate-General for Shipping (FPS Mobility & Transport). She focuses on legal matters related to navigation and climate policy.


Marc Nuytemans:

Chief Executive Officer at Blauwe Cluster (Blue Cluster) vzw

In order to provide optimal support to our members and partners and to achieve sustainable blue growth, Blue Cluster focuses on three pillars:Networking, Innovation, Strategy


Koen Geirnaert

Co-founder of dotOcean and managing director. 

dotOcean is a maritime automation company. We have been active for ten years in automation projects for ports, waterway authorities, wind farm owners, maritime contractors and defence. We offer smart autopilots for autonomous drones and ships (and recently also autonomous driving robots) in combination with cloud-based data processing software.


Steven Luys

Steven Luys joined the ECA Group in December 2019. His mission is to develop a fullyfledged R&D and manufacturing units to supply the Belgian- Dutch Marine’s Minehunter program with the latest generation of drones systems. The factory in Ostend is under construction and his local team now consists of almost 20 energetic employees.


Mitch De Geest

As resourceful and creative management executive with a global perspective Mitch has proven in the past year to be a successful serial-business-creator. Heading up several technology companies and seating in the board of several others. He has a successful track record in managing and shows entrepreneurial skills across the multiple channels and geographies where the companies are actively involved. Excellent analytical, interpersonal, written and verbal communication skills with a proven ability to lead and to deliver rapid and sustainable results

Citymesh is a Belgian telecom operator specialized in the roll-out of mobile private networks based on WiFi, 4G and 5G technology. Next to realizing the key infrastructure layer, the company creates added value by offering a wide range of applications on top of the network.


Louis-Robert Cool

Founder and CEO of Seafar. Seafar is a front-runner in the development and operational integration of state of the art technologies for semi-autonomous and crew-reduced shipping.

Seafar NV is an independent ship management company, offering technology-based services to operate crew-reduced, semi-autonomous vessels from a Shore Control Center.


Wouter Eyckmans

Wouter Eyckmans is managing the electrical and automation department of the DEME group.

His department is involved from an early stage of fleet expansion until the retirement of vessels. Adding value by appropriate automation and enabling a data driven approach is a key goal to support DEME’s projects.

DEME is a world leader in the highly specialised fields of dredging, solutions for the offshore energy industry, infra marine and environmental works.


Catrien Scheers

Chairperson of Fast Group (www.fast-lines.com).

She has over 30 years’ experience in the shortsea break bulk sector, built from in-house expertise as a shipowner, forwarder, terminal operator, ship agent and ship manager.

Catrien holds a master’s degree in Communication and Media Studies from KU Leuven University.

With offices in Europe Fast Lines offer a total logistics solution which they call ‘Sofa style service’. Fast Lines continually invest in people, ships and in port terminals.

Catrien’s motto is “Assets are important, but people make the difference!”ambassador of Fast Group/ Logistics, breakbulk and short sea shipping experts.


Wilfriend Lemmens

Managing Director of the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association.

He sailed the oceans for 18 years, whereof 10 as captain on board of different types of vessels. After completing his MBA studies, Wilfried continued his career on shore as fleet manager with a third party ship manager, CEO of the Belgian Pilotage and COO of a French tanker company.

Since 2015 he is managing director of the RBSA (Royal Belgian Shipowners Association). In 2016 he initiated the Maritime Industry Decarbonisation Council. 


Jean-Baptiste Merveille

Policy advisor at the Directorate-General for Shipping (FPS Mobility & Transport) where he focuses on navigation and radio communication issues.