VIKING Life-Saving Equipment is on its way to gaining IMO approval for the LifeCraft; a life-saving appliance (LSA) for passenger ships.
The concept was shown to the International Maritime Organisation’s Sub-Committee on Ships Systems and Equipment in London on 25th March, with the support of the Danish Maritime Authority. More than 180 delegates heard from Niels Fraende, VIKING Life-Saving Equipment vice president and Henning Luhmann, Meyer Werft head of naval architecture.
With full prototype testing of the LifeCraft nearly complete, the audience was told that the system has been performing in line with expectations. Fraende said the approvals process for the alternative LSA had been ‘a challenge’, but added that progress had been made by taking a practical approach to IMO guidelines (MSC 1/Circ. 1455, MSC. 1/ Circ. 1212 and SOLAS III/38).
VIKING Life-Saving Equipment hopes to secure the first approvals from flag states by the end of 2015.
The LifeCraft design initiative has its roots in the EU ‘Safecraft’ safe abandoning of ships project, started in 2004. It is a hybrid lifeboat/liferaft system, designed to combine the advantages of both solutions. Self-propelled, with four battery-powered electrical motors, one at each corner, each survival craft unit is fully equipped as a lifeboat, with a fire retardant canopy and a simple steering system that offers a high degree of maneuverability.
Each craft has space for 200 persons in an ergonomically-designed and secure seating arrangement that is also intuitive and flexible. Tests have shown that the construction is highly stable in sea states up to Beaufort 6+, Fraende pointed out, while rapid acceleration and high bollard pull makes it easy to pull clear of the mother vessel. The launching and embarkation arrangements mean that four units can be stored on deck in a storage container or integrated into the shipside, operated by gravity and stored mechanical power to provide a controlled descent with minimal handling by crew members.
“Our focus has been on ensuring operational safety,” Friend said. “This has been achieved by a combination of controlled, storage, technical simplicity, a simplified operation and easy maneuvering of the craft.”
Henning Luhmann stressed the importance of innovative products in achieving a successful cruise ship design and in delivering high levels of safety, efficiency and guest satisfaction. He said that a large number of lifeboats could be replaced by the LifeCraft solution, which was attractive to both shipyards and ship owners.
“LifeCraft is a big step forward. The huge reduction in equipment would mean less maintenance and repair, less risk of injuries to crew members, and it would have a major impact on the layout of the ships, including deck heights and steel structures,” he said.
Luhmann also pointed out that the selection of LSAs had to be made within the first three months of the design process. The expectation that approvals would not be in place in time had led Meyer Werft to shelve plans to use LifeCraft™ on one cruise newbuilding already, he said.
“IMO needs to do its homework,” he told the audience. “The approvals process for new technology is too slow.”