Home Associations Landmark Interferry conference looks to the future

Landmark Interferry conference looks to the future

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Tim Reardon

Tim Reardon

Issues including stowaway migrants, vehicle deck fires and the global economy will feature at the 40th annual Interferry conference, which takes place in Copenhagen from October 3-7 with an agenda shaped by headline news.

The trade association is returning to the city for the first time since 1981 for a milestone anniversary event that will provide a comprehensive update on the ferry industry’s latest solutions to decades of political and operational challenges.

Tim Reardon, the UK Chamber of Shipping’s taxation, ferry and cruise policy director, will examine the impact of border controls imposed at UK ports over the past decade in response to migration and security concerns – currently highlighted by huge disruption to short sea services as thousands of illegal migrants try to reach England from France.  Beyond this exceptional circumstance, Mr Reardon suggests that the new control requirements – ranging from data capture on passengers and freight to more intrusive physical interventions – present a major problem for ferry operators.

As he explains: “Almost all these controls are derived from processes at airports. They are predicated on every passenger travelling as a pedestrian and on an individual ticket that is usually booked well in advance.  They do not apply easily in an environment where most passengers travel in groups in vehicles and where most freight customers require a turn-up-and-go service.”

A string of presentations on fire control has also been prompted by recent incidents.  Rear Admiral Cristiano Aliperta, maritime attaché and IMO representative based at the Italian Embassy in London, is reviewing mass evacuation issues arising from the Norman Atlantic car deck fire on passage from Greece to Italy last December, which left 12 confirmed dead and 19 missing.

Interferry’s own research into previous fires has supported two key measures to optimise emergency response – improvements to fire detection systems to prevent delays caused by suspected false alarms; and frequent exercising of crew members in firefighting situations.  Conference delegates will hear similar input from Anders Tosseviken, principal approval engineer in DNV GL’s fire safety and life-saving section, who will question standards of safety training and vehicle deck fire-extinguishing systems.

Among technical solutions, a lightweight passive fire protection system – to contain the spread of fire within a limited area – will be presented by Javier Herbon, managing director of Australia’s CBG Systems.  The company’spanelised structures have been installed on more than 70 vessels and are said to offer more convenient and efficient insulation than traditional fibrous blankets wrapped across every beam and stiffener.

Peter De Keyser, chief economist at international bank BP Paribus, will explain why the global economy remains a hot topic for the shipping community.  His outline of short and medium-term trends will reveal the factors behind recovery in Europe, volatility in the US and trouble for emerging markets as growth in China slows.  He will also forecast how long-term demographic changes could shift the distribution of production, trade and wealth.

A highly specific trade issue will be discussed by Robert Almström, contract manager at Sweden’s Stena RoRo, who is chairman of the BIMCO sub-committee responsible for developing ROPAXTIME, a first-ever standard time charter party for the ropax trade that was launched in June.  The purpose-tailored initiative covers items such as hotel, restaurant and passenger-related issues and avoids having to use heavily amended dry cargo forms written for a completely different trade – reducing negotiation time and the risk of costly legal disputes.

The conference programme also includes two panel discussions – on environmental regulations in northern Europe and on the future for fast ferries – together with sessions on electric ferries and technical innovations ranging from remote control ships to auxiliary wind propulsion and a stern-fitted hydrofoil-type device designed to reduce fuel consumption in wave conditions.

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