Unprecedented Research Project, Ship Evacuations

Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Photo courtesy University of Greenwich

A research team led by the University of Greenwich has carried out an experiment in ship evacuation and safety procedures which could set the benchmark for future maritime law. The research team was made up of 11 members of the European Union, Framework 7 funded project SAFEGUARD.

The University's Fire Safety Engineering Group ran its unprecedented research project on board the Royal Caribbean international cruise ship Jewel of the Seas, in which more than 2,300 passengers took part in a live assembly drill while at sea.

Passengers' response times once the evacuation alarm sounded were measured by one hundred video cameras - which included CCTV, fish-eye, digital and analog cameras - specially positioned by the research team. Passengers also wore specially developed, infra-red tracking tags throughout the half-hour exercise, which allowed researchers to locate each person's exact movements and reconstruct the paths people took as they made their way around the cruise liner to the various assembly points on board.

Head of the research team Professor Ed Galea, who is also Director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group at the University of Greenwich, said the experiment on board the Jewel of the Seas had created nothing less than a piece of maritime history. "This assembly trial was unique in several aspects, as we collected data from a large cruise ship, during a virtually unannounced assembly drill and while we were actually at sea," he said.

"The research measured realistic response times to the alarm, at a time when 2,300 passengers were spread over 12 decks. Although passengers had been told the day before that we would be doing a drill, they were largely unprepared - in their staterooms, in the bars, in the gym, in the shops, restaurants and elsewhere - as the alarm sounded.

"All of this represents a significant difference from a typical assembly trial, which is heavily announced beforehand, which takes place before the ship sails, and where many of the passengers are already at the assembly points simply waiting for the drill to begin."

The exercise on board the Jewel of the Seas forms part of the three-year SAFEGUARD project, funded by the EU to the tune of more than $3.8m, which was set up to analyze ship evacuation procedures - in particular the length of time it takes passengers to respond to an alarm - and to improve current evacuation analysis practices.

The SAFEGUARD project is researching evacuation on three types of passenger vessels, including RO-RO ferries with and without passenger cabins, and cruise ships, and involves nine partners from countries including the UK, France, Norway, Finland, Greece and Canada. The SAFEGUARD partners include BMT Group, the University of Greenwich, Principia, Safety at Sea, Bureau Veritas and Marine Institute of Canada, as well as shipping lines Royal Caribbean International, ColorLine and Minoan Lines.

Professor Galea added that the scale of the operation on board the Jewel of the Seas, which took place on 31 July, was vast. The exercise required nine months of planning, while at least six months will also be needed for frame-by-frame analysis of the video footage, to measure the reaction times of passengers as they made their way to assembly points. Questionnaires filled in by passengers on board at the time of the drill will also provide extra data for the researchers to analyze.

The team's intense preparation paid off, however, as nearly all passengers co-operated with the assembly drill and wore their tags throughout the exercise.

"It was exhausting and exciting to organize this project on the Jewel of the Seas, and the results will be far-reaching,” Professor Galea said. "The response time data and the validation data we collected from the project is truly unique, and will help set an international standard for ship-based evacuation models in the future.

"Nothing on this scale is likely to be attempted again. The research conducted by the SAFEGUARD team will help shape future maritime law and, ultimately, by informing the design of better and safer ships, will help save lives."

Tracy Murrell, Director Maritime Safety and Compliance for Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, said: "We are extremely pleased with the success of the exercise onboard Jewel of the Seas. The shipboard team embraced the spirit of the exercise and assisted in all aspects to ensure flawless execution. Royal Caribbean is proud to be part of the ongoing efforts to improve safety onboard passenger ships and looks forward to learning from the results of the project."

Maritime Reporter June 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Cruise Ship Trends

Silversea Cruises Plans New Flagship

Cruise operator Silversea Cruises has unveiled its new flagship, the Silver Muse, which will begin sailing the seas in April 2017.    Built by Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri,

Silversea Cruises Orders Luxury Ship from Fincantieri

Shipbuilder Fincantieri has received an order to build a new luxury cruise ship for client Silversea Cruises due for delivery in April 2017.    At 40,700 grt and accommodating 596 guests,

Confidence Low in Shipping Idustry

Confidence levels in the global shipping market have fallen to a seven-year low as a glut of cargo ships, weak freight rates and excess liquidity continue to batter the industry,

Maritime Safety

New Binding Law of The Sea Agreement Advanced

WOC Sustainable Ocean Summit (Singapore, 9-11 November 2015) Will Enable Industry to Organize its Input to this Major New Ocean Treaty Development The U.N.

Ocean Safety, Richard Irvin Marine Safety Merger

Ocean Safety has today announced the merger with Richard Irvin Energy Solutions Marine Safety Division and their Aberdeen branch.   This merger follows the

EU NAVFOR Consults Somali Fisherman

Sailors from Operation Atalanta Warship ITS Libeccio speak to local fishermen about European Union’s efforts to deter Somali piracy   Sailors from Operation Atalanta

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1260 sec (8 req/sec)