VIKING LifeCraft Presented at IMO
This week, VIKING Life-Saving Equipment took a step towards gaining approval for the VIKING LifeCraft, its alternative life-saving appliance (LSA) for passenger ships.
The concept was presented to the International Maritime Organization’s Sub-Committee on Ships Systems and Equipment in London on 25th March, with the full support of the Danish Maritime Authority. More than 180 delegates stayed beyond the day’s normal business to hear from Niels Fraende, VIKING Life-Saving Equipment vice president and Henning Luhmann, Meyer Werft head of naval architecture.
LifeCraft is a hybrid lifeboat/liferaft system. 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.
With full prototype testing of the LifeCraft nearly complete, Fraende told the audience that the system has been performing in line with expectations. He also said that 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 aims to secure the first approvals from flag states by the end of 2015.
Each craft has capacity for 200 persons in an ergonomically-designed and secure seating arrangement that is also intuitive and flexible. Tests have demonstrated 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.
Each LifeCraft system has four "escape ways," with capacity to evacuate 1,816 persons in 30 minutes. However, Fraende pointed out that as a four LifeCraft™ arrangement would have maximum capacity for 800 persons, there is a capacity safety factor of 2.27, and therefore 800 people can be evacuated in just 15 minutes.
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 shipowners.
“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 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.”