Shaping the future of shipping

29 August 2017

Ronald Spithout, President, Inmarsat Martime

  • maritime

  • global-xpress
  • broadband
  • voice
  • safety

As an island nation, the UK has a long and proud maritime heritage, with London at its heart. This tradition will no doubt be celebrated at some of the 140 events taking place during London International Shipping Week (LISW) on 11-15 September. But the main focus of LISW – which Inmarsat has proudly sponsored since it began in 2013 – is the future.

The UK is the world’s foremost maritime centre, acting as the bridge between Europe, America and Asia. Shipping, ports and other marine services are worth over £11 billion to the UK economy, and provide around a quarter of a million jobs.

As such, it is ideally positioned to benefit from the projected growth in global shipping. Ships already transport 80 per cent of the world’s goods, and seaborne trade is predicted to double by 2030.

The 15,000 leaders from across all sectors of the international shipping community and UK government policymakers who gather in the capital for LISW next month will be considering the future of an industry facing game-changing opportunities and challenges.

The role connectivity will play in this future cannot be over-estimated. Through a series of highly topical seminars at our Silicon Roundabout HQ, Inmarsat will lead the discussion on what digitalisation means to the industry – from transforming operational efficiency through technological innovation, and the evolution of critical safety services, to the action needed to prevent ever more sophisticated cybercrime.

Digital disruption – what really happens next in shipping?

We have invited two influential futurologists to offer their predictions. In our seminar on digital disruption on 12 September, Gerd Leonhard, whose work focuses on the future of humanity and technology, will warn that traditionally conservative industries, such as shipping, which are slow to wake up to technological transformation often find change more disruptive when it does happen – and that time is now!

His keynote speech will undoubtedly provide food for thought for a panel discussion for which I will be joined by Niall McCollam, CTO for Lloyd’s Register, and Carl Henrickson, who is responsible for shipping and maritime value at Shell.

Dispelling the myth – the reality of cyber security in the shipping industry

Blue’ futurologist Kate Adamson, CEO of Futurenautics Group, will look at what challenges an unprotected industry faces in our session on cyber security on 13 September.

I am delighted that Lord Callanan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Aviation, International and Security, will be attending the seminar to launch the Department for Transport’s Vessels’ Code of Practice.

We will be making our own important launch announcement, introducing our Unified Threat Management (UTM) service.

The event will also see information security expert Professor Paul Dorey presenting his new cyber risk insight paper, and speakers from the National Cyber Security Group at GCHQ and risk mitigation experts NCC Group.

The future of maritime safety – the next generation of GMDSS

I will introduce an invitation-only briefing on the future of maritime safety on 12 September, emphasising our commitment to protecting the 1.2 million seafarers on commercial vessels who rely on Inmarsat as the only GMDSS-approved safety services provider. We will do this by continuing to invest in innovative safety systems, like SafetyNet II.

I will be joined by keynote speakers Katy Ware, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Director of Maritime Safety and Standards at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), and David Jardine-Smith of the International Maritime Rescue Federation, who will be looking at advances in global SAR and GMDSS.

I am looking forward to hearing what all our expert speakers have to say, and am excited that Inmarsat is helping to focus global attention on London and the industry we were founded to serve.

Find out more about the Inmarsat LISW seminars and book your place at

About the author

Ronald SpithoutRonald Spithout has been President, Inmarsat Maritime, since October 2014, overseeing global maritime activities for Inmarsat. Prior to joining the maritime business unit, he served as President, Inmarsat Enterprise. In this role, held since 2012, he had global responsibility for sales, including accountability for P&L, strategic direction and partnerships for enterprise markets, including Energy, Media and Commercial. Spithout came to Inmarsat from Stratos Global, which had been acquired by Inmarsat in April 2009 and then restructured under the Inmarsat brand in January 2012. Ronald Spithout began his career in the telecommunications business in the late 80s, held various sales positions for KPN (the Royal Dutch Telecom Operator) in the Netherlands and has held numerous positions with several of KPN’s JV companies. He holds a degree in electrical engineering from HTS-Rotterdam, the Rotterdam Institute for Technology. He also served in the Dutch military as a reserve Lieutenant in the Dutch Cavalry.