Helping cruise ships sail again, a greener-than-ever focus and new MES systems are some of the main focuses for passenger ship lifesaving equipment companies
Preparing to sail again, the ambition to be as environmentally conscious as possible and the increase in expedition cruises are all areas having an impact on the lifesaving solutions for passenger ships.
As cruise ships prepare to sail again, the passenger ship lifesaving equipment industry has been busy helping them to prepare.
Cruise ships, which are eyeing a return to service in August or September, have needed to renew passenger ship safety certificates. Viking Life-Saving Equipment vice president Cruise & LifeCraft Niels Frænde tells PST, “Renewing passenger safety certificates has led to a busy period, but we have been as supportive as we can, and our staff has been willing to work overtime.”
In terms of servicing equipment, one positive he points out is that many liferafts have been operating with 30-month service intervals, so have not been due for servicing yet.
One issue is the lay-up of cruise ships during the pandemic, which has led to a lack of training. Mr Frænde says, “Many cruise lines are very concerned about crew training as they have had skeleton crews which have just kept the vessels in operation-ready conditions, not all the safety crew on board needed for full operation with passengers.”
Therefore, crew training is a focus for cruise lines. One way in which Viking can help is through its Viking Safety Academy, which provides on board and computer-based training for STCW requirements and equipment. One of the cruise industry majors, who is a Viking Safety Academy client, worked with Viking to help develop the academy and to ensure it suits cruise industry requirements.
Greener than ever
Mr Frænde singles out an important growing trend – the ambition and need to be more environmentally friendly than ever, and the impact of this on cruise ships’ lifesaving equipment.
“Cruise lines will be aware the world will be watching as they come back into operation, and during the pandemic we have seen a significant focus on bringing down the impact of operations on the environment. The industry is looking to come back greener than prior to the pandemic.”
Explaining the impact on the lifesaving aspects of cruise ships, Mr Frænde says, “There is a focus on greener operations in terms of deployment and training on board where the equipment is in use. So, a focus on zero waste and making it easier to make sure they can retrieve any materials they might use.”
He expects lifesaving equipment manufacturers to scale down the use of plastics and to use more environmentally friendly options. Also, where plastic is used, the focus will be to make sure it is attached to the product and cannot be displaced and become an element that pollutes the environment.
Viking’s new, pioneering LifeCraft system fits in well with the trend to use greener lifesaving equipment. Mr Frænde says, “LifeCraft uses electrical power and all materials used can be repurposed or recycled at the end of the system’s lifecycle.”
He expects the first contract for LifeCraft to be signed shortly – and a major deciding factor for the operator concerns the equipment being as environmentally friendly as possible. Mr Fraende comments, “This is part of the criteria of the operator in final talks with us.”
He highlights how the LifeCraft system is a notable element with the growing trend to use alternative fuel in the passenger ship industry. “If you have a 100% LNG-driven vessel and then use the LifeCraft, which has 100% electrical power, then you are getting the greenest solution when it comes to propulsion and the best combination you can get currently.”
As well as the LifeCraft, another new development is the Viking Evacuation Dual Slide (VEDS) MES, which is due to be certified in the next few months. “It is different to all other MES systems as it does not have a fixed bowsing system welded to the ship side. Therefore, if the ship operates in icy areas, there is nothing that can be damaged on the ship side, and nothing can be damaged in port, or in the Panama Canal. That gives a lot of advantages.”
The system has capacity for 908 people. Mr Frænde says, “It is appealing for those cruise operators with larger ships which are not PC6 but still going to polar areas – it gives a good peace of mind if the ship enters a rougher area of operation or an icy environment.”
The VEDS also appeals to ferries. “Ferries go to port multiple times a day, so they are more vulnerable to damage on the ship side.”
Liferaft Systems Australia (LSA) has a varied schedule of deliveries for newbuild ferries and has recently launched a new product.
Despite the pandemic, the company, which celebrates its 30th birthday next year, has never been busier.
LSA European manager Peter Rea says, “Production wise, we never stopped, missed a day or closed down.”
The company has witnessed the pressures the pandemic has caused, from ferry newbuild delays to pressure on the maintenance side of equipment on existing vessels. Mr Rea says, “There has been pressure on service stations in some areas, such as in southern Europe, where some of the individual MES parts, like inflatable slides and liferafts, might need replacing. We helped with that, and in some cases managed short lead time requirements. Like other manufacturers, we have had a small number of orders for new ships delayed, but we were able to respond to these challenges and be flexible. We are a small yet dynamic and adaptive company that works closely with all our customers – if we can move around production, we are happy to do that without penalty.”
The company has a raft of new ferries for which it is providing equipment, including new vessels for Fred Olsen, Fjord Line, Torghatten, Boreal, Naviera Armas and the latest Salish-class ferry for BC Ferries, Salish Heron. Of note are the new cruise ships for Mystic Cruises, for which LSA has provided the MES systems. It has provided the systems for all three World-class vessels. The third and latest installation, World Navigator, has just been completed. It is LSA’s first cruise ship contract.
Mr Rea says, “The expedition cruise operator has standardised on our equipment, which is positive for LSA and this order opens up the smaller, expedition cruise sector for us. It is a significant order as it has opened up a new market opportunity.”
LSA has provided two MES with 50-person liferafts and an additional 50-person liferaft per side for each Mystic Cruises ship.
New MES for passenger-only vessels
LSA has also recently launched its Single Activation Fast Evacuation System (LSA SAFE) for lower freeboard passenger-only vessels. It incorporates a mini slide with an open reversible life raft/IBA for either 128 or 150 people. The system is currently targeted at the ferry market in North America, where it has passed US Coast Guard approval, and has approval pending from Transport Canada. The company is in the process of getting it fully type-approved so it can be sold worldwide, which it anticipates doing by the end of the year or early 2022.
Highlighting the benefits of the system, Mr Rea says, “It is a very small, lightweight, compact configuration installed on the ship and is automatically deployed by a single person from the bridge or MES station. Upon release by a single crew member, the LSA SAFE self inflates, is automatically bowsed into position and ready to board. It takes less than a minute – around 45 seconds – to have it fully ready to board alongside. We bring the renowned LSA safety and simplicity to the product, where we try to make equipment as simple as possible to both operate in an emergency and for shipowners and shipyards to install.”
Elsewhere, safety solutions provider Survitec has launched a streamlined supply chain process for critical firefighting and other lifesaving products.
Called Survitec Essentials, the new service addresses the need for marine operators to have predictable and convenient access to essential safety products at major maritime hubs around the world.
Survitec Essentials ensures the availability of a consistent range of products critical to maritime safety at short lead times with fixed prices at 12 ports worldwide. Ports include London, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Algeciras, Piraeus, Colon, Barcelona, Houston, Fujairah, Shanghai, Singapore, and Busan.
Streamlining lifesaving supply chain
Survitec product category manager fire, Finn Lende-Harung says, “This makes it easier for ship managers to budget and plan ahead. For the crew, it simplifies the training, service and spare parts regime. With Survitec Essentials, we have addressed the ship managers’ supply chain challenges and worked to simplify them.”
Addressing the procurement challenges ship operators and crews currently face, Survitec technical sales manager Wim van Iperen elaborates, “You can go on board a ship and find several brands providing different versions of the same piece of kit, different versions of the same spares and accessories and different manuals and instructions, possibly in several languages. Crews need to match all of these elements when they come to maintain, service or use the equipment. This not only increases stock inventories on board, but can be confusing, time consuming and complicated for crews.
“Now, with the Survitec Essentials range of more than 70 essential safety products, including spares and accessories, operators can be assured of having the products they need, where they need them, to stay safe and compliant, while also removing unnecessary complexities surrounding the management of safety equipment on board.”
Going on to explain the commercial and administrative advantages of the concept, Mr Lende-Harung adds, “With a fixed-price arrangement across 12 key ports, ship managers no longer need to worry about exchange rates, quotes on a case-by-case basis, or multi-currency transactions.
In other news, in May this year Survitec completed the acquisition of Norway-based Hansen Protection, a provider of personal protective equipment.
Survitec executive chairman Ron Krisanda says acquiring Hansen Protection is intended to broaden Survitec’s offering and enhance the company’s ability to service customers.
“The global reach and the combined company’s products and services will offer greater value to our customers by providing one single supplier for survival technology across a number of categories, including immersion suits, lifejackets, life rafts, marine evacuation systems, fire systems and servicing.”
Hansen Protection chief executive Terje Gorm Hansen says the move is the “logical step” for the growth of the combined business. “Coming together means we can offer our customers greater capabilities and capacity, access to a larger portfolio of survival technology and a wider geographic reach.”
“We are two companies with a very strong alignment in culture, with safety and innovation in our DNA. Working together, we will lead the way in engineering and providing world-leading solutions for our customers across the globe.”
As part of its strategic growth plans, Survitec announced this year the finalisation of a £270M (US$381M) refinancing agreement.