The Worldwide Ferry Safety Conference will take place on February 21-22, 2019 in Bangkok.
“2019 is a year of promise for ferry safety,” says Dr. Roberta Weisbrod, Executive Director of the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association (WFSA). “Why? Because there are new and upgraded ferry systems coming on online Asia. Participants at the Fifth Annual Ferry Safety Conference will learn that both India and Bangladesh are working with the World Bank and developing their inland waterways; the World Bank’s Senior Transport Specialist, Rajesh Rohatgi, will present.”
Dr. Weisbrod notes further that: “The Director General, Shipping of Bangladesh, Commodore Syed Ariful Islam, has been invited to present on initiatives to improve safety and efficiency in Bangladesh.” In Asia, both Manila and Bangkok (the site of the conference) will be updating their urban river ferries. The advent of new ferries, in a time of real commitment to ferry safety as evidenced at the recent ASEAN meetings, bodes well for improvements in well being for crews and passengers alike.
The goal of the conference, beginning February 21, will be to explore how technology, particularly digitalization, can help new and existing ferry systems in improving their safety and efficiency. Mr. Chaiwat Tongkamkoon, Thailand’s Permanent Secretary - Ministry of Transport, will preside the opening of Conference. US Coast Guard Captain Kevin Kiefer will discuss an important initiative to provide enhanced messaging of AIS, with the aim of improving communication of upcoming sudden hazardous weather to ferry operators. An initiative to extend AIS to the ferries of Bangladesh will be discussed by WFSA’s Nurur Rahman. Weather information and the capture of AIS signals around the equatorial Pacific Ocean will be vastly improved thanks to the imminent launching of nano-satellites; these efforts will be the subject of a presentation by Karsten Pedersen of Aerial-Maritime.
On the insurance front, there will be a presentation by Michael Watts of Marsh Insurance about new maritime insurance offerings including precision, use- and performance-based coverage. Life vests, always an important question for the ferry industry, will be the subject a presentation by David Meddings, from the World Health Organization, who is the author of WHO’s Global Report on Drowning. Ferry accidents will be the subject of a discussion by an international panel of experts from Indonesia, China and Italy. They will join their Thai counterparts in reviewing recent accidents and findings from investigations– with a major focus on RoPax fires, with an eye towards preventing future accidents.
WFSA conferences always feature an important “hands on” component. Day 2 of the conference starts at the Hotel Riva Surya, on the Chao Phraya River (which runs through Bangkok), to discuss training, with a focus on how Archipelago Ferries, based in the Manila area, has blended online learning with the personal approach to safety culture. Additionally, SeaVersity (also from the Philippines) will present on Virtual Reality being used to assist training. Bangkok is unique; it has retained its ancient culture and while evolving with the times and infusing its own Thai-style. Chao Phraya River Boat Company owner and chairperson, Ms. Supapan Pichaironarongsongkram, will make a lively presentation on the changes. A technical tour, immediately following the presentation, will feature a river cruise, emphasizing the ferry’s connections- including linkages with surface transportation, as well as commercial and recreational highlights. See attached graphic of vessel used on the river cruise.
The conference will also include presentations of awards to winning student entrants in the International Student Design Competition for a Safe Affordable Ferry. This year’s mandate was for students to design an express ferry for the Pasig River of Manila. This year marks a milestone with designs moving beyond concepts, into the realm of actual vessel specifications; ideas from the winning entries are being considered by the agency in Manila responsible for an ongoing vessel procurement. A reception honoring the students will be held on the evening of Feb 21. The conference organizers are delighted that the IMO is sending two key staff members, Bekir Sitki Ustaoglu, Technical Cooperation Division, and Irfan Rahim, Maritime Safety Division, and look forward to introducing them to the students.
In summing up, Dr. Weisbrod, WFSA’s Executive Director, said “This year’s conference combines innovation, serious intent, and plenty of good news to create opportunities to share ideas and business practices. And this unbeatable combination will occur against the superlative backdrop of Bangkok- sometimes called “The City of Angels.”