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Frank Coles Joins Green Shipping Startup Focused on Vessel Operations

well known shipping industry exective Frank Coles joins tech start-up
Frank Coles (file photo)

Published Nov 22, 2021 5:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

Well-known shipping industry executive Frank Coles announced his next career move joining a Germany-based startup green technology company Marine Digital. Always outspoken, and sometimes controversial in his viewpoints, Coles, who most recently was chief executive officer of Wallem Group, will be a strategic advisor helping Marine Digital to accelerate the startup development of the software technology focused on vessel data transparency and industry climate change mitigation targets.

“The Marine Digital project is unique and exciting, and I am excited to be able to participate in the journey towards solving the challenge of data acquisition on board the ship and the smart use of this data,” says Coles. “Marine Digital will challenge the status quo because none of the current solutions have quite mastered the integrated solution.  Too many of the solutions available today still have too many human elements attached, while Marine Digital is seeking to eliminate this. We all see the words automation, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and fuel efficiency, this is the first time I have seen it mean something.”

Frank Coles is an experienced maritime entrepreneur with a wide range of expertise. During his career, he has been outspoken challenging the industry to reinvent itself and improve operations and performance as well as conditions for seafarers. He challenges the industry with his views and is known for his criticism of policies and practices that harm seafarers. 

During his time at Wallem, a maritime services company, Coles was credited with initiating many changes aimed at enhancing customer service, obtaining operational efficiencies, and improving safety. Before joining Wallem in 2018, Coles was chief executive of a maritime software company, Transas, which was acquired by Wartsila. During his career, he also was operations director for Pacific Basin Bulk Shipping in Hong Kong, president of Inmarsat Maritime, and chief executive officer of Globe Wireless. Coles is a master mariner, having worked at sea for 12 years, and as a maritime lawyer.

"I believe that the experienced and ambitious technological team of Marine Digital couldn't find a better partner than Frank, who is a wise maritime expert with domain knowledge not only in the vessel operations, but also in satellite and wireless communications as well as in marine law,” says Ivan Ladan, CEO of Marine Digital. “The process of the data acquisition hardware and AI navigation development as we believe one of the major mass-market solutions supporting the climate change mitigation goals and this is a tough challenge because of its complexity - multidimensional data layers, terabytes of data sets, heavy industry surroundings of the vessel, which is by the way almost a fully metal object, so it's great to be on the same page of understanding the whole thing with Frank from the first minute."

Marine Digital, headquartered in Kiel, Germany, is an early-stage deep-tech company focused on automated vessel data acquisition hardware technology and artificial intelligence algorithms. The company is developing applications that use the AI data for route planning targeting vessel emission and fuel consumption reduction goals. Marine Data’s first solutions for charters, shipowners, and fleet managers focus on weather routing and voyage optimization, vessel performance monitoring, predictive maintenance, and reductions in fuel consumption and GHG emissions.

To learn more about Frank Coles and his outspoken advocacy of the maritime industry, read the profile on him in the July/August 2020 issue of The Maritime Executive.