Marine Log FERRIES 2019 broke new ground

Written by Heather Ervin
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Conference program was packed with presentations by leading industry experts

Marine Log’s FERRIES 2020 event will need a larger space than this year’s, which saw available exhibit space sell out and a packed conference room.

Held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on November 4-6, FERRIES 2019 was the latest in a series that, since 1987, has brought participants the latest in market development trends, emerging technologies, vessel design, regulatory issues and more, featuring individual and panel presentations by leading industry experts. Under new leadership this year, the event now covers a broader range of passenger vessels


On November 4, attendees and exhibitors toured Resolve Marine Group’s Maritime Academy, office facilities and warehouse led by Resolve’s Client Services Manager Lindsay Malen-Habib. The tour included a walk-through of Resolve’s mission bridge simulator, where guests witnessed a simulated vessel fire in Port Everglades. Guests then visited Resolve’s engine room, simulator which features some of the most advanced technology available.

Next stop: Resolve’s 140-foot firefighting training vessel, the T/V Gray Manatee, which incorporates the use of live fire-training in a realistic scenario giving mariners a taste of real smoke and heat, while performing and practicing real-life shipboard firefighting tactics.


Day one of FERRIES focused on various technologies being implemented in the passenger vessel market, including hybrid and battery-operated designs, autonomous vessels, route design and firefighting training.

The morning kicked off with a panel presentation and discussion on the commercial case for hybrid and battery-operated vessels. Panelists included Bruce Strupp, senior account manager for ABB; Joe Hudspeth, director of business development-global marine for BAE Systems’ Power and Propulsion Solutions; and Anthony Teo, technology and LNG business development director for DNV-GL.

Another presentation getting a lot of audience attention on day one was Joe Burgard and Joshua Sebastian’s discussion on designing and operating a hybrid passenger vessel.

Burgard, president of the Red & White Fleet, spoke about the Enhydra, a 600-passenger plug-in hybrid tour boat delivered by All American Marine, Bellingham, Wash., last year.

Sebastian, engineering manager for The Shearer Group, joined Burgard in discussing hybrid design on two different projects the company has underway, with one being a new TxDOT ferry project that he expanded on in a presentation the following day.

Other first day presentations included:

  • Optimizing and planning ferry operations using simulation modeling technology by Vijay Agrawal, vice president-Americas Ports & Marine, transportation for AECOM
  • Autonomous ferries and passenger vessels by Michael Johnson, founder and CEO of Sea Machines Robotics, and Drew Orvieto, senior manager-commercial fast craft product line and engineering for ZF Marine Propulsion Systems Miramar LLC
  • Private-public partnerships in developing new ferry routes by Cameron Clark, senior vice president for Hornblower
  • An overview on the Skagit County, Wash., all-electric ferry project by Capt. Rachel Rowe and Will Moon, senior naval architect for Glosten.

The day wrapped up with a session on employee hiring and retention practices by Thomas Montgomery, vice president of human resources for Inland Marine Service; marine firefighting and training by Lindsay Malen-Habib, client services manager for Resolve Marine Group; and an overview of Thrustmaster of Texas’ energy storage system for ferries by Paul Rembach, hybrid systems manager.


The final day of the conference looked at topics that ranged from state projects in Texas and North Carolina, non-skid and topside coatings for ferries, vessel cybersecurity, increasing water taxi ridership and security issues that can impact ferry and passenger vessel operators.

Sebastian returned on day two to give a more in-depth overview of The Shearer Group’s Texas Department of Transportation project—the state’s first hybrid ferry. The company is providing construction oversight of the 300-foot hybrid ferry under construction at Gulf Island Fabrication in Jennings, La. The project entails the design of a double-ended diesel-electric ferry with energy storage, capable of carrying 495 passengers and 70 cars from Galveston Island to Bolivar Peninsula.

In other presentations, Glenn Arent, senior national sales and distribution manager for NCP Coatings Inc., briefed the audience on non-skid and topside coatings for ferries. Christine Dimitriou and Joelle Dvir, both associates with the McDonald Hopkins law firm, outlined vessel cybersecurity and data privacy measures and best practices, while maritime security consultant Ron Thomason went over a variety of security topics of which audience members may not have been aware. He also provided information on grants and other funding opportunities for ferry operations looking to improve their vessel and operation security.

Jed Dixon, deputy director for the North Carolina Ferry Division, discussed the launch of its newest passenger-only ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke. Dixon went over the launch of the passenger ferry as a case study in implementing new marketing techniques and using technology to support new service and fostering community support.

Bill Walker, president of Water Taxi of Fort Lauderdale, discussed his company’s passenger vessel operations and how it tackles ferrying passengers around the city during some its largest events, including the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. Wärtsilä North America’s Vesa Koivumaa, business development director-Marine AMER, provided insight on how the company’s Smart Marine technologies can benefit newbuild and retrofit ferries and other green offers applicable to the ferry market.

FERRIES 2020 will again be held in Fort Lauderdale, but at a new venue offering more space. To inquire about speaking opportunities, contact Heather Ervin, editor of Marine Log magazine, at [email protected]. For information on exhibiting and attending the event, contact Conference Director Michelle Zolkos at [email protected].

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