Liferafts which only need servicing every 30 months

Apr 23 2020

Safety equipment company Survitec has developed a liferaft for tankers which only needs servicing every 30 months.

Safety equipment company Survitec has developed an extended service liferaft (ESR) for safe application onboard oil or gas carriers, which allows liferafts to be serviced every 30 months, rather than the 12 months under the servicing model required by SOLAS up until 2009.


The company had to ensure liferafts were hermetically sealed in a water-tight silver foil bag inside an environmentally-controlled container.


To ensure that correct ambient conditions are maintained – a key requirement of the regulation and vital to raft reliability, operability and deployment – the container incorporates humidity and CO2 sensors. 


This also means that crews can take humidity and CO2 readings directly from a USB port on the side of the container using a handheld device.


Adopting ESR allows liferafts to be serviced every 30 months, rather than the 12 months under the servicing model required by SOLAS up until 2009, and allows operators to monitor the condition of the liferaft in real-time, says Tommy Scott, head of engineering – Survitec Liferafts.


“From the sensors, crews can take readings once a year to ensure the liferaft is in good working order.


However, to comply with European standards for oil and gas carriers and platforms governed by ATEX (Atmospheric Explodables), we had to create a low powered CO2 sensor to ensure that the use of an electronic device would not ignite or interfere with the ship’s cargo.”


Polar Code

As part of International Life-saving Appliance Manufacturers’ Association (ILAMA) Mr Scott provides input to the IMO working groups involved in establishing safety guidelines and rules and continues to provide input to the IMO Polar Code, the mandatory requirement for the safe ship operation and environmental protection in the polar regions.


“More shipping routes are being developed and so more vessels are transiting Polar waters,” says Mr Scott, a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.


“Special equipment should be carried onboard to ensure that lifesaving appliances (LSA) work as planned. We have been instrumental in providing expertise on the performance of inflatable LSAs in sub-zero temperatures.


“With average temperatures in the North Pole around -34°C, the essential components on liferafts can freeze, impacting system integrity.


“Equipment such as Survitec’s Heating Blanket System have been developed, which wraps around the liferaft container, ensuring this critical system can function in temperatures as low as -70°C.”


Ship Design

Mr Scott believes that the robust product design and manufacturing processes Survitec undertakes across its product portfolio is vitally important to maintaining, improving and delivering quality solutions that enhance the users’ safety.


“Feedback from customers, suppliers, service engineers, industry groups, research facilities, universities, legislation making activities, search and rescue organisations, training facilities, the whole gamut, is essential,” he says. 


In the same way, he believes that early consultation with naval architects during the ship design process can maximise a LSA’s performance and reduce last minute design changes.


“The vessels in operation today are subject to a vast array of regulations and standards covering every aspect of ship construction and operation. This includes those relating to fire safety measures, such as escape routes, fire protection systems and life-saving appliances and arrangements.


“It is therefore essential to safety that a safety specialist is involved right from the start of the ship design process,”


“The information and knowledge we impart influences policies at both a regional and international level. If we can impact how the industry moves forward and help take safety to the next level, then we are on the right track. After all we are here to save lives,” says Mr Scott.


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