Season’s Greetings Ferry Friends,
I hope you’re able to enjoy the holiday season in one form or another over the next couple of weeks – regardless of the size of your “bubble”.
As crazy as 2020 has been, we all still have much to be thankful for – both personally and professionally. Now that COVID vaccinations are beginning to be rolled out across the globe – there is real hope on the horizon for a return to a version of normalcy sometime next year. After all, hope is what truly keeps us all going during tough times, with the anticipation that tomorrow will bring better things than yesterday.
At Interferry, as difficult as 2020 was with the cancellation of our annual global conference for the first time in our 45-year history, and member ferry traffic plummeting by as much as 90% at times, we still managed to steer a steady course and stay focused on the key regulatory and safety items critical to our industry’s success in the coming years.
Here’s a summary of the most important initiatives we undertook in 2020.
IMO GHG Deliberations & MEPC 75/76
By now, you’ve heard many times about the importance of these GHG deliberations to the long-term success of the ferry industry, as well as our call to action to operator members to submit their data to us. I’m happy to report we have received an excellent response to our request, which will go a long way to ensuring that as many existing ferries as possible will be certified to continue operations when IMO’s new GHG regulations utilizing the EEXI (energy efficiency design index for existing ships) takes effect in 2023.
However, our work is not done. We still need members to continue to provide their input regarding the second part of the new regulations that deal with the concept of continuous improvement related to GHG reductions called the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII). If you haven’t participated in this portion of the project and would like to do so, please let us know right away, as we only have a couple more months of member consultation before we need to submit our final position on CII to IMO’s correspondence group in preparation for MEPC76 next June.
COVID Governmental Support and Safe Sail Procedures
Early into the pandemic, we issued a call for financial support to all levels of government across the globe on behalf of our members who continue to provide lifeline services while incurring unsustainable financial losses. We are pleased to see that a number of jurisdictions answered our call by providing financial aid and other forms of relief to many of our members. While the level of assistance was less than hoped for in many cases, as the old saying goes, “every little bit helps”.
It is worth noting that our call for governmental help was qualified by some of our members who stated that any form of government support needed to be done on a non-discriminatory basis, without distorting markets on competitive ferry routes. In fact, a few of our members advised their respective governments that they would not be participating in their financial aid relief packages because – in their view – the principles noted above could not be adhered to.
Interferry also took a proactive and leadership position with many regulatory agencies and governments by issuing a best practice guide for the safe resumption of ferry service when COVID-19 infections dipped during the summer and many ferry routes temporarily returned to more normal operations. While not a panacea, this allowed for a “staycation” market to materialize and provide some much-needed short-term relief for many of our members. This best-practice guide has been used by various governments as a blueprint for COVID-safe travel on domestic and international ferry routes across the globe.
After several years of constructive deliberations, Session 101 of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) approved new draft interim guidelines on Ro-Pax fire safety. Interferry argued that some aspects of the voluntary guidelines required greater discussion to avoid unjustified construction requirements, such as the safe distances for life saving appliances in relation to ro-ro deck openings.
In March 2020, the seventh annual session of the IMO Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) sub-committee met to draft SOLAS amendments to be enforced from January 2024. Two main issues were unresolved at SSE7: the proposed prohibition of so-called open RoRo spaces, and how to assess which requirements should apply to existing (pre-2024) ships. This was referred to a correspondence group for ongoing discussion prior to reporting to SSE8 in March 2021.
The IMO has issued the interim guidance, which is voluntary in nature, but treated as mandatory by many Member States. Interferry supports the majority of this guidance, but would like some modifications before throwing its full support behind it.
Interferry’s Partnership in LASH FIRE
The EU-funded LASH FIRE project aims to identify and assess additional fire safety measures for Ro-Ro cargo and Ro-Ro passenger ships, with a view to promote industry uptake and to develop regulatory proposals. The project is populated by strong maritime partners, including 11 member Interferry companies.
Interferry has engaged John Garner as our project lead, including coordinating the efforts of the Maritime Operators Advisory Group, which is the main interface between the ferry industry and the project.
As part of LASH FIRE, in the fall of this year we co-sponsored a successful webinar with over 200 participants on the subject of “Fires in Alternatively Powered Vehicles”.
Domestic Ferry Safety and FERRYSAFE
Due to the pandemic, we have been delayed in making our application for the second phase of the FERRYSAFE project. We expect to do so shortly under the leadership of the new Domestic Ferry Safety Committee Chair, Oliver Weiss.
With regards to the March IMO Bangkok workshop on Domestic Ferry Safety, the in-person meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19. Instead, we participated and presented in a virtual meeting and provided a strong statement of support and assistance for IMO’s model regulations for domestic ferry safety. We plan to actively pursue this initiative once the IMO reconvenes its committee schedule in 2021.
Proposed Changes to the HSC for Slower Speed Ferries
Interferry has established an industry consortium with HSC manufacturers Austal and Incat, and classification society DNV GL. The group has commissioned a study to review the HSC Code and identified any implications of removing or adjusting the current minimum speed requirement.
The original plan was to present the findings to the IMO Maritime Safety Committee at the MSC102 meeting scheduled for May 2020, but this was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the timeline has changed, the way forward remains the same.
The presentation will be made whenever MSC102 is reconvened. It will seek support from Member States for a submission to MSC103 asking for a new agenda output to review the HSC Code’s minimum speed requirement.
Ferry Market Study
Interferry has engaged Oxford Economics in a study of the global ferry industry with the objective of determining our size and economic impact. The study will be conducted in phases, with the first phase consisting of a scoping exercise to determine if there is sufficient third-party data for Oxford Economics to fulfill the full scope of our desired study.
The first phase will also incorporate a confidential membership survey that asks for operators to supply data to Oxford Economics and Interferry so it can be used to assist in the extrapolation of global ferry market characteristics. Assuming a successful first phase of the project, the second phase will complete the work needed to define the size and economic impact of our industry, as well as our relative size compared to other industries, such as airlines and cruise ships. You will hear more about this study in the coming months.
2020 New Members
Please join me in welcoming 14 new members to our family in 2020. I’m always reinvigorated when companies have the foresight to see their marketing dollars as an investment in their future – especially during these challenging times.
• Ralph Alexson – Sweden
• Dr. Andrew Baglin – Australia
• Cummins, Inc. – USA
• Eligroup SRL – Italy
• EMCS Industries – Canada
• Mason Shipbrokers Ltd. – Great Britain
• Nextrasoft Limited – Great Britain
• NRMA Marine – Australia
• Philippines InterIsland Shipping Association – Philippines
• Pinnacle Marine Corporation – USA
• Pivotel America Ltd. – USA
• Specto Remote AS – Norway
• Starlight Italia SRL – Italy
• Sterling PBES Energy Solutions (SPBES) – Canada
As always, please consider our valuable members first when conducting your business.
New Interferry Chair and Director
At our virtual October AGM, on behalf of the membership, Directors voted Brittany Ferries CEO, Christophe Mathieu, as the new Chair of Interferry and Supapan Pichaironarongsongkram, CEO of Chao Phraya Express Boats in Thailand, as a new Director.
Directors also approved the 2nd term appointments of Directors Claes Berglund and Götz Becker; the 3rd term appointments of Directors Per Westling and Wilco van der Linden; and the annual appointment of the Officers of Interferry which includes Christophe Mathieu (President and Chairman), Tim Mooney (Vice-Chairman), Mark MacDonald (Treasurer) and me as Secretary.
We also recognized the resignations of Janette Bell and Merideth Tall who have left the ferry industry, and retirements of John Steen-Mikkelsen and Nils-Erik Eklund due to term limitations.
2021 Conference – Santander, Spain
Now that COVID-19 vaccinations are beginning to roll out in many parts of the world, the Interferry team is even more determined than ever to deliver our 2021 conference in person in Santander, Spain, which will be hosted by Brittany Ferries. We have already secured all venues, including the elegant Real Hotel and the Santander conference center.
We are encouraged to see the large number of sponsors who have already committed to the Santander conference and also by the number of inquiries we’ve recently received from potential sponsors. With the conference not commencing until October 2021, it’s entirely possible that we will approach, and possibly exceed, the level of sponsorship activity that we saw in London in 2019.
If you are thinking about sponsoring in Santander, I encourage you to contact us quickly as many of our packages have already sold out with others getting close.
Zoom Interview with Per Westling – Newbuild and Charter Market
This month I interviewed Per Westling, Managing Director at Stena RoRo and eight-year Interferry Director, about ferry operators’ most important assets after their employees – their ships. I asked him about the global newbuild and charter markets, as well as his observations on how ferry owners and shipyards are doing, and what they are planning for the future given a more optimistic, but still uncertain, 2021.
A special thanks to this month’s sponsors Wärtsilä and Inmarsat.
Per Westling, Managing Director, Stena RoRo, Sweden
You can view Per’s interview here in the Communications section.
A Message of Hope
As we close out 2020 – which I don’t think anyone will be disappointed about – I leave you with a message of hope for 2021. Hope that the vaccine rollout turns the tide on this global pandemic. Hope that advancements in rapid COVID-19 testing allows for more freedom to travel. Hope that the worst is behind you for your respective business, and most importantly, hope that you and your loved ones, like our grandchildren in the photo below, remain safe and you are able to enjoy this holiday season.
Take care and stay safe…
Mike Corrigan – CEO, Interferry