Passenger ship lifecraft offerings look set to be shaken up by new solutions and processes
Viking Life-Saving Equipment is moving forward with its hybrid LifeCraft, which has been approved by the DMA.
Its hybrid LifeCraft evacuation system is set to be launched to market this year. The system consists of four LifeCraft units, each with a capacity of 200 people. Each of these self-propelled inflatable units can be placed either on deck or built into the ships’ side. Development work on the Viking LifeCraft started in 2009, aiming to combine the advantages of modern lifeboats, such as self-propulsion, with the features and advantages of liferafts.
Senior vice president of Viking’s passenger division Niels Fraende says “We have finished the trials and documentation and will start the process with other flags. The first ships with the LifeCraft installed will be seen in 2021 and 2022.”
He adds “What is very interesting is quite a lot of retrofit projects are coming up and there is interest in incorporating these on existing ships. The challenge of existing ships is they are built for another compliance set and existing ships have other rules.”
Some 17 m of space needs to be found for the LifeCraft but one of the benefits of retrofitting this, is it would typically replace two 150-person lifeboats with one of 812. The space requirement would be the same but would add more lifesaving capacity.
Mr Fraende commented on the keenness within the marketplace for the new system. “There is a lot of interest by the operators, and several are willing to become first movers. They see the benefits and once the first one is through the system, it will lead the way for other projects.”
LifeCraft will boost safety as its functionality can be electronically surveyed daily, with information sent directly to the bridge. “The bridge constantly has an overview of readiness and is aware of the LifeCraft System’s condition,” said Mr Fraende. Such a system is not available today.
Mr Fraende said a key focus when developing the LifeCraft was making the equipment handling as efficient, intuitive and safe for crew as possible. “We are building up a full training programme for the LifeCraft, including e-learning,” he said. “That will ensure the crew definitely knows how the equipment works, how to launch it and how to work with it.”
Introducing LEAN to liferafts
Survitec is testing its new hybrid mass evacuation system featuring inflatable lifeboats accessed via slides, that has been developed for the cruise industry. The company says it is the largest capacity evacuation system available, with one Seahaven system carrying 1,060 people, with 530 people in each craft. With multiple slides aiding quick evacuation for both able and disabled persons, it also allows families to descend as a group, reducing stress during the evacuation process.
By flicking a switch, crews can deploy Seahaven in around four minutes, due to its ergonomic and easy launching system that does away with conventional davits. Survitec says its footprint is up to 85% smaller than conventional live-saving appliances.
Survitec managing director marine Baba Devani told Passenger Ship Technology that the system underwent a sea trial in April and will undergo another at the end of the year.
He comments “It is an alternative to lifeboats and is faster and safer as it uses slide technology. The biggest challenge is to make sure that it has the highest possible level of testing. We are using aviation standard methodology to test the product and will not launch until we have satisfied ourselves that it has been tested so that we know it will work every time.”
Elsewhere, Survitec began restructuring the business last year. Mr Devani himself was appointed in February as a part of this.
Survitec is reorganising its business into two separate and distinct divisions: marine, and defence and aerospace to focus more on its customers with operations in these different sectors.
A hugely important part of Survitec’s reorganisation is based on LEAN methodology, which incorporates the principles of value, value stream, flow, pull, and perfection, in order to remove waste from the manufacturing process.
Mr Devani says “We are building an organisation to drive operational excellence using LEAN methodology, which is very well structured, using easy to understand tools to work more efficiently to eliminate risks. Lean is something that auto manufacturers use. What it is not about is making an organisation more lean – I am talking about specific tools for specific improvement.”
He gives some examples. “There are 50 or 60 steps from the time we receive a quote and some of those processes. If you don’t look for ways to eliminate waste, you end up with inefficient steps in the process. It takes longer to get information and for things to happen and to receive an invoice. We are applying it in the operational and physical environment and it comes from the shop floor.
“Our technicians servicing the liferafts will be trained in LEAN methodology, so that things are in the right place. So when they go to find a spanner, they know where it is and it is located in a place that minimises the number of steps, meaning they can work more quickly, with higher levels of quality and the workplace is more safe, meaning there is less likelihood of waste in activity. This translates to doing things better and faster for customers.”
A LEAN pilot project took place in Barcelona recently, which invited Survitec employees from around the world to half a week’s training. “That is all it takes to keep the workplace tidy,” says Mr Devani.
He emphasises “It is about continuous, small, incremental improvements.”
He says the company is aiming to have everyone working to the LEAN principle within the next 18 to 24 months.
New cruise market entry
Elsewhere, Liferaft Systems Australia (LSA) has marked its first entry into the cruise market. LSA provided the liferafts and MES systems for Mystic Cruises’ newly-delivered World Explorer, and it has signed up to deliver the same for the upcoming two sister ships.
LSA European manager Peter Rea says “This is exciting for us, it is our first foray into the cruise market.”
The company provided two MES systems and two liferafts with a 50-person capacity each. Mr Rea says “The compact nature of the MES fits nicely into the design, it sits in between decks with a flushed door and blends very well with the design. We worked very closely with the designers, they were simple to install and we have a very good relationship with shipyard. The owners are very satisfied.”
He singled out the expedition cruise ship market as of growing importance to LSA. “This is a growing niche market in the cruise sector and we will be looking at smaller vessels such as this – they have more of a scope to fit our systems [than larger cruise ships].”
LSA has also been very busy with BC Ferries’ fleet. It recently supplied the lifesaving appliances for Spirit of Vancouver Island and Spirit of British Columbia, which completed their mid-life upgrades at Remontowa shipyard, a move that also saw the ferries retrofitted with LNG dual-fuel propulsion.
Indeed, BC Ferries has been standardising their MES and liferaft equipment across the fleet using LSA’s solutions.
Other newbuild orders for LSA include Torgatten’s newbuild at Sefine shipyard and Fred Olsen’s new trimarans at Austal shipyard, as well as high-speed ferries for Fjord Line.
As well as newbuilds, the company is busy with retrofits. “A lot of ships that were originally installed with our equipment are coming up to 20 years old and looking at equipment replacement.”
Breakthrough man overboard
Elsewhere a breakthrough technology that aims to instantly detect man overboard (MOB) incidents is on the brink of being released.
Captain Reidulf Maalen passed away on 21 April. His death came as a company he co-founded, SOS, is due to release the breakthrough technology. Capt Maalen’s long-time colleague and business partner, Sverre Dokken says “To say that he is missed is a huge understatement. His passing leaves a void. But he has a legacy that can help fill that.”
Five years ago Mr Dokken, Capt Maalen and Jens Hjelmstad, a leading figure in developing advanced sensor technology, came together to work on a new concept. Capt Maalen, as an experienced cruise captain, was passionate about ensuring optimal safety at sea, while Mr Hjelmstad and Mr Dokken had innovative ideas about how to utilise sensors to address potential incidents. Spurred on by the US Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 – requiring vessels to “integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard, to the extent such technology is available” – they got to work establishing SOS (multi sensor offshore safety system).
“It was Reidulf’s opinion that ‘one life lost at sea was one life too many’ and that, in conjunction with increasing industry awareness and the work of organisations such as the Cruise Victims Association, helped give us the drive, faith and ambition to think ‘yes, we can address this issue – we can make a difference here’,” states Mr Dokken.
With financial assistance from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, the team got to work.
SOS has now created something unique. By interweaving a complementary array of advanced sensor technology (including their own proprietary LADAR solution – a compact laser ‘radar equivalent’ for close proximity surveillance) the team has created a game-changing detection solution that, protected by European patents, fully integrates with last year’s ISO/PAS 21195 standard for MOB incidents.
It is, Mr Dokken states, the key to finally unlocking the 2010 safety act.
“The US act was very well intentioned,” he argues, “but has so far not achieved its aims due to a lack of adequate technology. SOS changes that. We believe this is the new standard that will redefine the MOB response for passenger transport, with the potential of rolling out throughout the entire maritime industry.”
SOS gives the bridge team of deck officers and lookouts additional pairs of ‘eyes’ across the whole vessel perimeter and surrounding environment. It works to instantaneously detect a person falling overboard, immediately alerting the bridge to ensure no time is lost in the response. The unique configuration of sensors then gives the shipmaster a 360° overview of the surrounding environment, with an extended range of up to 2,000 m towards the aft of the vessel to enable exact pinpointing of the MOB for rescue. The combination of complementary technologies means the solution is also ‘weather proof’ as some sensors are optimised for different light and weather conditions to give accurate feedback regardless of environmental conditions, such as working effectively in the Arctic.
“It is the first truly complete system of its kind,” Mr Dokken says.
“Search and rescue operations are notoriously expensive, especially when moving further away from coastal infrastructure, so those costs, as well as the disruptions to planned services, can be completely avoided.”
Mr Dokken says the company is looking for a partner, or partners, to help take the business to the next level.
Snapshot CV: Baba Devani (Survitec)
Baba Devani was appointed managing director of Survitec marine division in 2019. His experience spans the industrial sector from aviation services to workwear supply and he has operated globally across both developed and emerging markets. Previous positions include Berendsen workwear division managing director and business development director of Mission Critical Services. His career also includes 11 years at British Airways. He graduated from Oxford University.