Working to make a difference in the ferry industry

Interferry CEO Mike Corrigan reflects on a hectic round of activity devoted to crucial industry issues

Working to make a difference in the ferry industry

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

The purpose of any trade association is surely to make a difference. That is certainly the clear objective of the networking and lobbying mission at global ferry trade association Interferry, where the tireless work of our safety, security and regulatory affairs committees is paying industry-wide dividends.

Environmental regulations are currently at the core of our consultative status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Our most recent interventions have profoundly supported the ferry industry’s long-term viability, particularly regarding the IMO’s ambitious carbon reduction targets. I must stress that Interferry and our members applaud efforts towards a greener planet and relish being seen as exemplary environmental stewards embracing new technology. However, we also advocate that any measures must recognise the sector-specific design and operational requirements of ferries.

To this end, we have gained IMO acceptance for crucial changes in how the Energy Efficiency Design Index is applied to ro-pax and ro-ro vessels. This includes a 20% correction to the calculation formula and agreement that the original improvement targets of 10% by 2015, 20% by 2020 and 30% by 2025 – subsequently tightened for some other ship types – should remain in force for ferries. We now intend to address various regulators on potential moves to mandate ‘slow steaming’ speed reductions, which we consider much less feasible for short-sea timetables than for deep-sea schedules.

Meanwhile, ferry operators are setting the pace in implementing alternatives to heavy diesel fuel, with diverse solutions such as low-sulphur diesel, LNG, electrification and hybrid systems. Beyond this, Interferry is involved in the European Union-backed six-nation HySeas III project. The project was launched last summer to develop the world’s first seagoing, zero-emissions ro-ro ferry that will be powered by hydrogen fuel from renewable sources.

This January, our Domestic Ferry Safety Committee – formed to help developing nations – won Lloyd’s Register Foundation funding to study significant safety improvements in the Philippines and produce a ‘lessons learned’ report to help other nations. Elsewhere, Interferry is engaged in the European Maritime Safety Agency’s fire protection study, which is due to be presented at an IMO meeting later this year.

Our security committee of specialists from 12 operators is devising ‘possible measures’ guidance after concluding that solutions tailored to specific companies are preferable to a blanket strategy. The committee is also reviewing problems related to stowaways, most notably in the Mediterranean, and talking with the CSO Alliance of maritime company security officers about mitigating cyberattacks. They are also discussing plans for a special partnership between ferry ports and operators.

In addition to environmental activity, our regulatory committee is heavily involved in debates about enhancing vessel damage stability and the European Union Passenger Rights Directive on customer compensation for cancelled sailings and late newbuilds delivery.

With so many key issues at stake, it is immensely gratifying that last year saw 34 new recruits join the Interferry community, which means we now have 240 members in 37 countries around the world. Our 44th annual conference in London, UK this October will further demonstrate the timely importance of our ‘Stronger Together’ philosophy.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019