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March 6, 2009

Interferry gets into it at IMO

Worldwide ferry industry trade association Interferry is using its consultative status at the International Maritime Organization to act on two major environmental and safety initiatives involving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and ro-pax vessel design.

The environmental issue comes to a head from March 9-13 when the IMO's GHG Working Group meets for renewed consideration of a proposed energy efficiency design index (EEDI) for new ships.

In a briefing paper sent to IMO, Interferry says the suggested calculation methodology, which is based on a ship's capacity does not take account of power arrangements and trading patterns relevant to ro-pax and passenger ferry operations. The Interferry briefing sets out a sector-specific alternative for the working group's consideration.

The EEDI formula was presented at last October's meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee MEPC). The MEPC session approved the proposal as an interim calculation guideline but acknowledged the need for further development and refinement.

Interferry's submission concedes that a capacity-based formula might be applied to ship types engaged in trans-ocean trades where seagoing transit is the absolute dominating mode in an operational profile. However, argues Interferry, this fails to provide a fair comparison basis for ships on short-sea, timetabled line services or for vessels with unconventional propulsion systems.

Interferry also urges a solution for indexing shipboard auxiliary power, stressing that this should provide an incentive for improvement and optimization.

Concluding that "adequate indexing cannot be achieved by utilizing a generic equation based on capacity," Interferry insists that a robust EEDI should be framed in two separate parts:

  • an efficient propulsion design index (EPDI), expressed as the required propulsion power per capacity as a function of service speed, and
  • an efficient auxiliary and utility systems design index.

Interferry says that, by focusing on required rather than installed power, the EPDI could easily cover ships with unconventional propulsion systems and those with higher installed power due to ice strengthening. At the same time, naval architects would have greater freedom to work on several individual design parameters, enhancing their ability to reduce required propulsion power and thereby cut fuel consumption and GHG emissions.

Meantime, following calls for a formal safety assessment (FSA) of Ro/Pax vessels from Danish delegates at IMO's recent Maritime Safety Committee, Interferry has been invited to nominate a member of a group of experts that will consider the issue.

Interferry CEO Len Roueche comments: "This is a unique opportunity to have a say in the very early stages of regulatory development and speaks volumes for our key role as the ferry industry's global voice."


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