SMASH! is the abbreviation for smart shipping: highly automated sailing at sea and on inland waterways. SMASH! is the place where knowledge and expertise about smart shipping come together.

What is smart shipping 

The shipbuilding and shipping sector are innovating rapidly. Pushing factors are the improvement of sensors, connectivity and data aggregation. These trends lead to increasing automation and digitization, also in shipping. As a result, shipping can operate more cost-effectively and safely. These developments are responding to a decreasing and aging workforce of sailing personnel.

The trend development for smart shipping includes all innovations with regard to complex automated sailing at sea and inland waterways, both on-board of ships and on the waterways.

The Smart Shipping program 

Smart Shipping is a ministry-wide programme and aims to facilitate innovations in the field of smart shipping. The programme contributes to the competitiveness, safety and sustainability of the sector through: 

  • to connect different parties and offer a clear direction for innovation; 
  • to provide legislation and regulations within current legal frameworks and where necessary adjust legislation and regulations to allow innovations to be structurally allowed after successful experimentation; 
  • to prepare the physical environment; 
  • to be ready as a waterway manager, enforcer, inspector and licensing authority. 

The ambition is to make extensive automated sailing possible. This offers the opportunity to gain experience that can be used in the development of a framework within which smart shipping can also be used structurally in both the Dutch and international waters in the longer term. 

In addition to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Rijkswaterstaat, the Coast Guard and the Inspectorate for Built Environment and Transport are part of the Smart Shipping programme. 

The team

This is the team behind SMASH!

Patrick Potgraven

Finn Kortman

Jelmer de Lange

Michael Schreuder

Gerald Menkveld

Why smart shipping? 

The shipping sector is an important sector for the Dutch economy. Around 40% of the transport from the port of Rotterdam to the hinterland takes place by inland vessel. Of course there are also challenges in the shipping sector. Other modalities are rapidly taking on a more sustainable character. The inland shipping sector will have to go along with this. In addition, there is a threat of a labour shortage. It is increasingly difficult to find suitable staff. 

Utilizing new sensors, connectivity and data aggregation offers a helping hand to meet these challenges. Smart shipping helps to ensure that shipping can operate in a more cost-effective, sustainable and safe manner and, moreover, the smart shipping development is responding to the tightness of the labour market. 

About the SMASH!-community  

Co-operation between government and the private parties is necessary to stimulate innovation in smart shipping. Become a member of our community. As a member you stay informed, you will have access to our network and knowledge, you receive a monthly newsletter and you will be welcome at all our meetings.   


Our knowledge of water ways and water systems does not come to us on its one. After all, smart shipping is a trend that is developing world wide. Internationally, we co-operate with a large number of international authorities and government agencies.  

At this moment we collaborate with Flanders in facilitating experiments with smart shipping on water ways. Also, an international working group has been set up within PIANC on the initiative of the Netherlands and Belgium. The Smart Shipping programme is also the Dutch representative within INAS, the International Network for Autonomous Shipping. Ministry IenW representatives are happy to take input from the Smart Shipping community to organizations such as the IMO, CCR, and IALA. 

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