WFSA sees 2019 as a year of promise for ferry safety

Day 2 of conference will feature river cruise Day 2 of conference will feature river cruise

JANUARY 7, 2019 — "2019 is a year of promise for ferry safety," says Dr. Roberta Weisbrod, Executive Director of the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association (WFSA).

WFSA's Fifth Annual Ferry Safety Conference is being held in Bangkok, Thailand, February 21-22, 2019 and Dr. Weisbrod says that participants will learn that both India and Bangladesh are working with the World Bank, whose Senior Transport Specialist, Rajesh Rohatgi, will be making a presentation.

In addition, the Director General, Shipping of Bangladesh, Commodore Syed Ariful Islam, has been invited to present on initiatives to improve safety and efficiency in Bangladesh."

The goal of the conference will be to explore how technology, particular digitalization, can help new and existing ferry systems in improving their safety and efficiency.

Chaiwat Tongkamkoon, Thailand's Permanent Secretary - Ministry of Transport, will preside at the opening of conference. U.S. 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 the subject of a presentation by Karsten Pedersen of Aerial-Maritime. On the insurance front, Michael Watts of Marsh Insurance will cover new maritime insurance offerings. i 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 the use of Virtual Reality 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 discuss the changes.

A technical tour, immediately following her presentation, will feature a river cruise, emphasizing the ferry's connections, including linkages with surface transportation.

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 and ideas from the winning entries are now being considered by the agency in Manila responsible for an ongoing vessel procurement.

In summing up, Dr. Weisbrod 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.' "

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