In an emergency at sea, a ship’s safety equipment may avert a major marine disaster. VIKING’s R&D team goes to extreme lengths to ensure its safety equipment innovations will perform when the going gets tough
From fire extinguishers and first-aid kits to lifejackets and evacuation systems, you need to know that the safety equipment on your vessel has been tested, tried and re-tested – and proven to function under the toughest conditions.
At VIKING Life-Saving Equipment, a leading manufacturer of maritime safety products and equipment, quality and performance testing are built into its entire innovation process, from initial design through to final product.
“At any one time, the safety of thousands of people on commercial vessels, cruise ships and other boats around the world may depend on the performance and reliability of our equipment. This is a huge responsibility. Extensive testing is the only way to be sure that every piece of life-saving equipment will perform when people need it most,” says vice president sales, Cruise & LifeCraft, Niels Fraende.
Tested to the max
Emergency situations at sea often occur in stormy weather, with high winds, threatening waves and panicky, seasick passengers. And it’s in such moments that VIKING’s dedication to testing comes into its own.
“Heavy weather testing is probably the most eagerly anticipated part of the development stage at VIKING,” Mr Fraende explains. “Our heavy weather test team gets into some pretty risky situations to do this essential work, but it demonstrates that our innovations can be used to save lives in the harshest conditions.”
In the eye of the storm
Just how harsh are such conditions? As an example, Mr Fraende mentions the heavy weather testing of the VIKING LifeCraft™ System. A revolutionary hybrid evacuation and survival system, VIKING LifeCraft combines the smaller footprint of modern liferafts with the self-propelled manoeuvrability and comfort of modern lifeboats.
The heavy weather test team demonstrated the superiority of this innovative solution in conditions far exceeding those required by the Danish Maritime Authority. The tests took place in the North Sea between southern Norway and the UK. Wave heights were between 3.6-4.6 m with towering peaks of up to 10 m – 50% above the stipulated heavy weather testing requirements – and the wind reached speeds of 18 m/sec.
“Despite seasickness and heavy decks, the team launched the boats and then manoeuvred them along the weather and lee sides of the ship for several hours. They also simulated station-keeping by performing a 24-hour controlled drift test in battering seas. It was quite a challenge, but to know that the VIKING LifeCraft™ can operate in this type of storm, we simply have to go all the way.”
The VIKING heavy weather test team won the Electric & Hybrid Marine Award 2019 in the Engineering Team of the Year category for their role in the testing of VIKING LifeCraft™. But for VIKING, heavy weather testing is not about awards; it is about knowing that its innovations will keep people safe when they need it most.