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Introduction to the 2020 Conference

Photo by Mitch Waxman

Dear Colleagues,

COVID-19 killed friends, disrupted our lives now and into the future, and threatened life and livelihood. The ferry sector has been hard hit, with many routes losing over 90% of their passengers due to non-essential worker lockdowns set to reduce the rate of spread.

The story of the ferry sector is one of resilience and resourcefulness as it prepares for resurgence. We have been surveying ferry systems around the world for how they are responding with new protocols. A summary of our findings in the form of a survey instrument is attached. There are numerous stories which we will report on: Most heart-warming and inspiring is the Seastreak NY/NJ fast ferry now providing all medical workers and first responders free passage.

Looking to the future, the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association yet again sponsored its annual international student design competition, this year for a RoPax ferry for Lake Victoria, a place with notorious virulent weather, killing over 3000 fishermen annually. The award-winning student designers were to come and present at the Ferry Safety and Technology conference scheduled for April 2020 in New York City. Instead they prepared virtual presentations, as did the moderator, Captain Nurur Rahman, WFSA Board member and one of the judges of the competition. You can see video links and presentations on this page.

Kindly send questions at ferrysafety -at- for fielding to the relevant parties.

Warmest regards,

2020 Ferry Conference Program, Virtual

Session 1: Award-winning Student Presentations

The 2019-2020 Design Competition for a Safe Affordable Ferry focused on designing a Ro-Pax ferry for the Winam Gulf region of Lake Victoria in Kenya. The service will connect the newly revived Port of Kisumu and the coastal terminal at Mbita and other ports, supplementing the new and fairly successful Globology passenger-only ferry service, Waterbus East Africa.

Opening Presentation: WFSA Board Member Captain Nurur Rahman. Click here for the video.

First Place: Hochschule Bremen, City University of Applied Sciences, Germany. Click here for the video presentation.

Second Place: Universität Rostak, Germany. Click here for the video presentation. Click here for the PowerPoint slides (in PDF).

Third Place: Singapore Institute of Technology and Newcastle University. Click here for the video presentation. Click here for the PowerPoint slides (in PDF format).

Session 2: Training in the Time of COVID and into the Future

The presenters discuss quantum leaps forward using new methods to improve training skills and judgment in the challenging maritime environment—now yet more challenging. We all would be very appreciative to hear your feedback.

Introduction to the Training Session, WFSA Board Member Captain Nurur Rahman

Skill Assessment and Using Technology to Help in Covid Times, Murray Goldberg, MLS

Overcoming Challenges of Training: Through Leadership and Virtual Reality, Ephrem Dela Cerna, Jr., Engineer, Seaversity; Mary Ann Pastrana, FastCat Ferries

Session 3: Good News about Ferry Safety in the World

Overview of the Findings, Dr. Roberta Weisbrod, Worldwide Ferry Safety Association

Very Good News about Ferry Safety in Bangladesh, WFSA Board Member Captain Nurur Rahman

Ferry Safety in Kenya with Focus on Lake Victoria, Malcolm Ormiston, Globology Waterbus

Ferry Safety in Indonesia, Elena Chesheva, World Bank Transport Leader for Indonesia

Ferry Safety in the Philippines, Interferry's Ferry Safety project (multiple links)

Session 4: Data in the Service of Ferry Safety

Data in the Service of Ferry Safety, Len Roueche

Maritime Insurance Based on Behavior: Benefits and Analytics, Andrew Yeoman

S-41X: Marine Weather Overlays, Joseph Sienkiewicz

Low Cost Options for Monitoring Local Weather--A Key Safety Need, Catherine T. Lawson

VDES – the Next Generation of AIS, David Hewson


The Worldwide Ferry Safety Association is a not-for-profit dedicated to bringing innovation in training methods, as well as use of technology to provide notification for sudden hazardous weather, curb overloading, and enhance marine rescue technology. We encourage innovative new ideas in ferry safety and design. To that end WFSA is sponsoring a design competition for safe affordable ferries. The competition is open for registration now. Those interested, please contact us at ferrysafety at gmail dot com.