Skip to main content
Health and safety

Merchant Navy seafarers' views needed on whether ammonia can safely be used as a marine fuel

14 February 2024

Merchant Navy seafarers' views on ammonia's safety – and its relevance to the decarbonisation of shipping – are being sought by Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.

In order to understand safety concerns and competence gaps, the Center has launched a survey, towards future users of ammonia as a marine fuel.

The results will inform future training recommendations and guidelines that could contribute to a modification of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). The responses will also guide future publications and guidance needed to 'enable the ammonia fuel pathway'.

The decarbonization of all ships is critical for reaching the International Maritime Organization's ambitions for reducing greenhouse gases by 2050. It will be achieved by using alternative fuels and reducing fuel consumption. Methanol and biofuels as well as ammonia are anticipated to be promising fuels for zero emission ocean transport.

Implementation of ammonia as a marine fuel is going to be technologically feasible by 2025 to 2026, but it will create some new challenges for the whole maritime community, says the Center for Zero Carbon Shipping. There is already comprehensive industry experience in handling and transporting ammonia as a cargo at sea, however: approximately 15 million tonnes are traded annually through about 160 global ports. The Center says the safe use of ammonia as a fuel will draw heavily on this experience.

The global ammonia safety study focuses on the maritime community's perception of ammonia as a future marine fuel – in particular, how ammonia as a fuel will be accepted. The anonymous survey, which is open until 24 February 2024, takes about 5 minutes to complete, and the researchers are particularly keen to hear from yunger seafarers, under aged 35 years, and those working as ratings, and technical managers.

The results are expected to be announced, and concerns answered, in spring 2024.