Zodiac SOLAS, Chevanceaux, France, has developed a new escape slide system for small to medium-sized ships and high speed craft. The new Zodiac SOLAS MES MIS (Marine Evacuation System – Medium Inflatable Slide) is a double track slide that can enable the evacuation of 731 passengers in 30 minutes when used with Zodiac’s Throw Over 150 person canopy life rafts. When used with Zodiac’s Open Reversible Inflatable 151 person open life rafts, 397 passengers can escape in 17 min 40 sec.
Although the new system is only now being formally introduced to the market, it has already been attracting considerable interest from shipbuilders. The first Zodiac MES MIS system has already been sold and successfully commissioned by a French shipyard and an order has also been received for systems to be fitted on a French naval vessel currently under construction. Enquiries have also been received from potential customers in Australia, Poland, Italy, Croatia, Norway, Germany and the United States.
The new evacuation system is deployed at right angles to the ship’s side and is available in four sizes covering freeboard installations from 4.7 to 9.3 metres. It is designed for deployment at an angle of 35 degrees and will be suitable for a wide range of vessels including high speed craft governed by the HSC Code, small passenger vessels operating in national waters, military vessels and ro-ro ferries on short international voyages. The new product extends the Zodiac range of small inflatable slides which were previously available for freeboards up to 3.8 metres. It also offers an alternative to the Zodiac DBC vertical chute Marine Evacuation System for medium range freeboard heights up to 9.3 metres and which are used with higher capacity rafts.
The Zodiac SOLAS MES MIS may be supplied for new buildings or for retro-fitting and can be provided with a choice of Throw Over 150 person (B Pack), Open Reversible Inflatable 100 or 151 person (HSC Pack). Two new life rafts; the Throw Over 100 person (A or B Pack) and the Throw Over Self Righting 100 person (B pack) are currently under development and will provide an even wider range of options for shipyards when they become available by mid 2010.
The Zodiac life rafts are stored in a GRP container and the inflatable slide is folded and rolled around it on a tilting deployment cradle. All life rafts used by the new system are of the Zodiac Aspirator type which makes it possible to reduce the overall weight of the MES. A regular Throw Over Self Righting 150 person raft weighs 840 kg whereas a Zodiac Solas Aspirator Throw Over 150 person life raft weighs just 490 kg and demonstrates the system’s suitability for use on high speed craft.
Manufactured in France, at the modern Zodiac factory at Chevanceaux near Bordeaux, the new escape system is EC(MED) approved by Bureau Veritas. It successfully passed heavy weather sea trials in October 2008 when it operated well in winds of Beaufort Force 6 to 7 and with wave heights from 4.5 to 5 metres and, on occasions, up to 8 metres. This performance significantly exceeded the regulatory requirements which are limited to wind strengths of Beaufort Force 6 with 3m wave height.