Austal Ships has selected Survitec Zodiac escape slides for the Perle Express and the Liberty vessels.
Both are newly constructed 47m fast ferries and were completed at the Austal yard in Henderson, Western Austalia. Perle Express and Liberty entered service in October with their owner L’Express des Iles and are in use on routes between Guadeloupe, Les Saintes, Marie Galante, Dominique, Martinique and St Lucia.
Four Survitec Zodiac Small Inflatable Slides (SIS), developed specifically for fast ferries with low freeboard have been installed on the Liberty, a 47-metre ferry capable of carrying 437 passengers and ten vehicles at speeds of more than 32 knots. The 3.2-metre long SIS provides passengers with rapid access to the four open reversible 151-person liferafts that accompany them. The Perle Express at 47 metres can carry 364 passengers at 32 knots and has also been fitted with three SIS from the Survitec Zodiac range and three 151-person and one 100-person liferaft.
The new escape systems were chosen by L’Express des Iles following the successful use of Zodiac slides aboard other Austal-built vessels in the company’s fleet; the Gold Express and the Silver Express. The slides meet the owner’s requirement to be able to rapidly and safely evacuate passengers and this was demonstrated when the system was given its certification trials in the presence of Bureau Veritas inspectors in early July.
The trials were conducted with 150 people adopting the roles of ferry passengers when the slides and their liferafts on the port side of the ferry were deployed. The benefits of using escape slides to evacuate a vessel with comparatively low freeboard became apparent when it was shown that the last person entered the liferaft just eight minutes and 32 seconds after the abandon ship announcement had been made and the slides deployed.
Survitec Zodiac is a leading manufacturer of liferafts, escape slides and rescue boats which it manufactures at its factory at Chevanceaux in France. It is a leading innovator in rescue system technology and recently introduced the world’s first automatic escape slide. This is designed for use on vessels with small crews and can be activated by a button on the bridge when it is inflated and made ready for passenger evacuation without any crew input.