Worldwide Ferry Safety Association Conference to be Held April 22-24


By The Maritime Executive 01-20-2020 06:38:20

The Worldwide Ferry Safety Association (WFSA) sixth annual conference (held last year in Bangkok) has grown to be a must-attend event for decision makers in the ferry world. The diverse roster of attendees provides a unique forum for ferry operators, commercial executives, equipment designers/ naval architects, government officials and regulators to interact and exchange ideas. 

The WFSA itself has grown in prominence, having been invited by the World Bank to facilitate brainstorming on ferry safety in India, Bangladesh and Indonesia and make recommendations for ferry transport in Lake Toba on North Sumatra.

This time the conference is back in New York, to take place at Pier A Harbor House, on the downtown Manhattan waterfront adjacent to The Battery. The agenda will include sessions describing the burgeoning ferry market close to home in New York harbor, as well as developments throughout the world, notably in the developing countries in Asia and Africa. 

Dr. Roberta Weisbrod, WFSA’s Executive Director, said: “In such a tremendous growth environment there are plenty of opportunities in New York and in many parts of the developing world. In the two years since NYC Ferry started, ridership was up nearly forty percent from what was originally projected. In 2020 and 2021 NYC Ferry service will expand with new routes to Staten Island, Coney Island, the West Side of Manhattan, and the East Bronx, with growth expanding from the existing 21 landings and 28 vessels. In the developing world, the World Bank has inland waterway projects in excess of $1.5 billion for Indonesia, Bangladesh, Assam India, and the Lakes region of Africa.” 

Weisbrod stressed that technologies fine-tuned in New York will have broad applicability throughout the world- including in Asia and Africa. Also an integral part of the conference, are presentations by the international student design competition awardees who have designed a ferry for a specified route. The winners in the seventh annual competition will all receive awards at the conference. This year’s terms of reference call for design of Ropax ferry capable of holding 200 passengers, and lane capacity for trucks, that would provide service across the Winum Gulf region of Lake Victoria, in Kenya. 

Weisbrod explains: “Kisumu, on the Gulf, is a key port and is now being redeveloped. Tourism is important in the Gulf - so quality ferry service will be highly valued. Fishing is a key industry; the trucks would handle fish, and also livestock.” 

21 teams (from universities throughout the world) have registered. On a related matter, the conference is fortunate that Malcolm Ormiston, CEO of Globology, a successful passenger-only service on Lake Victoria- backed by Shell, will participate.

Major themes in the conference include safety and training; both of these are underpinned by advances in data management and analysis. Though the agenda is still being fine-tuned, data driven topics will include “behavior based” maritime insurance by the CEO of Concirrus, as well as a critical analysis by IHS Markit of maritime safety which will offer insights not previously available. 

Data also plays an important role in weather forecasting; conference attendees will learn about new tools from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to display weather information in Electronic Charting Systems, and will have the opportunity to learn about innovative low cost ferry weather monitoring advances in New York Harbor that have applicability elsewhere. Training of mariners and crew is also seeing important technological advances; this year’s presentations will include a session on the use of virtual reality. 

A representative from the famed Royal Navy Lifesaving Institute will review advances in personal floatation devices while the representative of the Cape May Lewes ferry will describe their use, first in nation, of a maritime slide evacuation system.

For further information about the conference, please contact Dr. Roberta Weisbrod at ferrysafety@gmail.com or link through the conference website www.ferrysafetyconference.squarespace.com. For presentations from previous conferences, including innovative student designs see WFSA website at: www.ferrysafety.org/ideas.

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