Student ferry design competition winners receive awards

Written by Nick Blenkey
Winning design in student ferry design competition

First prize in WFSA student ferry design competition went to Indonesia's Surabaya ITS,

The Worldwide Ferry Safety Association (WFSA) has presented awards to the finalists in its student ferry design competition, now in its ninth year. Dr. Roberta Weisbrod, WFSA’s executive director, said the specifications for the design ferry were crafted to be ever more challenging from year to year, but that for this year’s objective, creating a safe and affordable ferry for transiting India’s Brahmaputra River, “the river itself created the challenges.”

As WFSA board member Captain Nurur Rahman (a ferry veteran now based in Australia) pointed out, the river (which flows down from the Himalayas through eastern India) exhibits much siltation, varies greatly in depth, width, and current with the seasons and the monsoon.

You can see the teams’ video presentations on the WFDA YouTube channel.

Naval architect John Waterhouse, from Elliott Bay Design Group, led the questions following the presentations, but student team members also joined in with additional queries.

Captain Rahman, whose previous positions included director of the Papua New Guinea Shipping Department, is a highly sought after and well respected international maritime consultant, and has been a judge of the student ferry design competition since its inception. He noted the profound importance of the design competition to improving critical competencies as well as the human centered approach. He commended all 12 student teams for completing credible design submissions for the extremely challenging specifications and said that he regrated that only four teams could receive awards.

In the competition, the vessels were to be designed to carry 150 passengers, eight vehicles, as well as bicycles, motorcycles, and freight (including agricultural products) across the Brahmaputra River.


The first prize was awarded to the team from Indonesia’s Surabaya ITS whose design had multiple positive features. The aluminum vessel, which could be built in Cochin India, has diesel electric engines with a biofuel generator, fuel filtration, with a double sea chest for engine cooling. The vessel named Lashmi (the goddess of wealth and good fortune in Hindi) has side and bow ramps for multiple berthing processes, Safety features include sensors for obstacle and navigational issues, urethane foam for maintaining buoyancy in the event of hull breach along with a good safety plan and evacuation analysis (marine evacuation slide system) and a COVID prevention plan). The report has a good analysis of return of investment.

Second place in competition went to PoliBatam design
Second prize went to PoliBatam

The second prize also went to a team from Indonesia, PoliBatam, for its mono-hull vessel, the Shankara (the god Shiva) which also has numerous positive features.

It uses azimuth thrusters for maneuverability. Solar panels can support the ship’s electrical power needs. Safe navigation is assisted with a vessel traffic management system working with shoreside support, and with LIDAR sensors for obstacle avoidance.

Load and unload is via side ramps, and the vessel is equipped with a turntable in the vehicle area, to expedite parking. There is a good safety analysis and evacuation analysis and flexible design in the event of pandemic.

One of two teams awarded a third prize in student ferry design competition was University of British Columbia
Team from University of British Columbia was one of two awarded a third prize

There were two third prizes.

The vessel design from the University of British Columbia’s team, the Suraksha, is a catamaran with side ramps. Design features include separated vehicle and passenger space, and good design for the navigational bridge for better visibility. The vessel has standard sonar for depth changes, with spotlights for night operation. The outboard engine is intriguing. Construction at a local shipyard facility has been considered.

The other third prize went to another team from Indonesia, Universitas Indonesia. Its vessel, the Triwitono, has an electric propulsion system and includes use of biodiesel. The vessel has fully enclosed deck spaces for cargo and passenger. Safety measures include radar and GPS for the navigation system, The design report included a thorough affordability analysis among its good operational calculations.

In the virtual awards presentation, roughly seventy participants from around the world were logged on through the virtual platform. In Dr. Weisbrod’s words, “The attendees were people interested in vessel design and construction and, of course, in maritime safety. They deepened their insights into maritime design and construction, and were inspired for future endeavors.”

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