We have all been forced to do things differently in the wake of COVID‑19, and I’d be surprised if, in the post‑COVID‑19 world, we went back to how things were. In fact, it would be a mistake if we did.

From my perspective, despite the challenges, this is a real opportunity to take a fresh look at how we do things. We all know that our industry is one that relies upon relationships and it is often criticised for its conservatism. However, necessity has forced the industry, at scale, to look beyond its traditional approach and engage with new technologies to harness the power of remote connections and keep the industry moving. There are many benefits to capitalise on if these ways of working continue as a permanent feature; not least of which are improvements in efficiency, increased safety, and optimised utilisation of the entire maritime workforce.

For us at LR, this has resulted in an accelerated demand for remote surveys, but this is not the limit of the remote services we are providing. We are seeing growing interest in our digital twin assurance, structural health management services. We are also supporting our clients with cloud‑based bespoke solutions that deliver business value across many areas of their operating environment, integrating data to optimise business performance, focused on individual assets, fleets and people; for example, our Cloud Fleet Manager – ship management tool. Hopefully, you will have also seen our recent announcement concerning Euronav’s Machinery Planned Maintenance and Condition Monitoring Scheme (MPMS(CM)), where we are now delivering approval via remote techniques.

The significance of our response during this crisis, with this innovation in remote and technology‑enabled working, has been made clear to me during my many conversations with clients, alongside their praise of the enhanced teamwork and collaboration they have experienced while working with us. Digital technology may be enabling new ways of working, but it is the expertise and experience of our people that make the difference and has brought our clients and colleagues closer together, enhancing remote collaboration during these challenging times.

The need for collaboration at this time cannot be underestimated, so it is critical that we have a unified industry approach. To this end, we continue to work closely with flag states, regulators and other industry partners to drive consistency in remote working practices.

There may be a physical distance between us, but I have seen many parts of the industry come together, and I hope this strengthened impetus on collaboration, as well as acceptance and accelerated take‑up of digital technologies, is a legacy we are left with long after COVID‑19.