Lifeboat release and retrieval systems addressed

Jun 30 2013

Under the new IMO regulations issued in May, 2011, all lifeboat release and retrieval systems (LRRS) must have been evaluated and verified against new requirements no later than 1st July this year.

Systems found to be non-compliant must be replaced, or modified, by the first scheduled drydocking after 1st July 2014, but not later than 1st July 2019.

As has been well documented, this regulation was brought in following more than 10 years of problems with on-load release hooks, which were the cause of many accidents, some involving fatalities. It was found that a lack of maintenance, design faults and poor training were at the root of the problem.

Concerns about these problems has often meant that crews were reluctant to hold lifeboat drills and according to leading Danish-based supplier Viking, tarnished the reputation of lifeboats as a safety device.

Viking has teamed up with two of the world’s leading LRRS manufacturers- Nadiro and Hatecke, which have already achieved certification for their respective systems. The LRRS systems gaining certification are posted on the IMO GISIS database.

Nadiro has introduced its patented Drop-in Ball system, which uses hydraulics instead of cables and was the first system to be published as compliant on the IMO’s database. It was developed together with a leading shipowner and versions for free-fall lifeboats are available from a capacity of 20 persons up to 120. Hatecke is a leading German-based manufacturer of lifeboats, rescue craft and davit systems.

Viking is a distribution, installation and service partner to the two companies. Benny Carlsen, Viking vice president for the Northeast region explained that by having two partners, this makes for a more simple system.

The company offers a comprehensive LRRS evaluation and replacement service and through its partners, offers certified LRRS servicing worldwide.

Having introduced customisable agreements that have claimed to have reduced unpredictable, fluctuating costs, Viking said that it is now focusing on further fine-tuning its workflows and providing even faster service response times under the company’s shipowner agreements scheme.

This scheme incorporates safety products, global servicing, single-source management and financing in a variety of fixed price structures, servicing liferafts, immersion suits and lifejackets, lifeboats, release hooks and davits, plus marine firefighting equipment. The concept’s flexibility is coupled with servicing and exchange options.

Carlsen explained that this concept offered the shipowner/operator the flexibility of opting for an exchange service, or a fixed price service package. The fixed price option offers service and refits of equipment at many ports worldwide for a flat rate. At present the company has 60 wholly-owned service stations and around 270 other authorized service outlets worldwide.

“With the costs and difficulties of port delays receiving growing focus in the shipping industry, we’re putting a lot of effort into ensuring that our shipowner customers can avoid unnecessary waiting, administrative frustrations, or unforeseen expenditure,” CEO Henrik Uhd Christensen said. “Our shipowner agreements have been providing this level of service for some years now, but we’re always ready to deal with new situations, such as the impact of hook retrofit compliance, aiming to achieve the bare minimum of disruption to shipping schedules.”

For newbuildings, the company can offer shipyards and owners a full turnkey package of lifesaving equipment.


Offshore to commercial

DNV has claimed to take lifeboat safety one step further. The company said that maritime lifeboat safety will be enhanced by transferring offshore lifeboat design practices to ships.

The shortcomings of existing free fall lifeboat designs were revealed in a number of incidents related to structural safety, human loads and headway back in 2005. A joint industry project was initiated by OLF (the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association) to find the reasons for these incidents.

The project revealed that the SOLAS requirements, on which the design criteria were built, were based on lifeboat performance during test launches into calm waters and from heights significantly smaller than those encountered on host facilities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

With larger waves and drop heights than those presumed, the lifeboats were exposed to greater loads and damage, which explained the shortcomings revealed in 2005.

As a result of these findings, DNV was asked to develop a new standard for the design of free fall lifeboats. The new ‘Design of Free Fall Lifeboats – DNV-OS-E406’ standard was launched in 2009 and revised the following year.

Based on modern limit-state design methodology (rather than performance during drop tests), the standard was quickly embraced by the Norwegian offshore industry. The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway refers to the standard as the norm for the design of free fall lifeboats.

This standard is currently being revised to include new calculation methods, such as computational fluid mechanics, to estimate extreme loads in an even more robust way.

Today, maritime lifeboat release and retrieval systems are being developed according to design criteria based on SOLAS requirements. DNV suggested that maritime lifeboat safety may be enhanced by transferring offshore design practices to ships.

DNV-OS-E406 can with a few amendments easily be transferred to apply to free fall lifeboats on board ships. “If the shipping industry decides to implement our Free Fall Lifeboat standard, I believe maritime lifeboat safety will be taken an important step further,” said Olav Rognebakke, the head of DNV’s ship hydrodynamics and stability section.


Training simulator

DNV has also designed a training simulator to demonstrate thousands of potential vessel defects with real life accuracy. It is now available on laptop with special training programmes developed to suit inspectors, seafarers and technical managers. The potential of Sesam SurveySimulator was demonstrated in DNV’s 2013 Fire Safety Awareness Campaign.

The Sesam SurveySimulator uses virtual reality technology with photo quality texture and realistic sound to present complete visualisations of a tanker, plus other ship types, including engine room, cargo holds and decks. People are able to ‘meet’ on board the simulator to examine and discuss particular features, such as the real-time portrayal of coating degradation and much more.

“Video tutorials and pre-prepared learning scenarios enable step-bystep inspection training that is used to train surveyors and also technical managers and crew in what to expect from the inspections by class or port states,” explained Dariusz Dabrowski, the DNV manager who has been in charge of developing this tool. The system is now available as part of a DNV training package, or can be used under license for incorporation into a company’s in-house training.

“The system includes the tools needed to flexibly create training programs that meet specific corporate goals and is suitable for the practical training of shoreside personnel and seafarers,” said Dabrowski. “This has a positive impact on incident-free operation at reduced costs.”

DNV will be demonstrating the impact of Sesam SurveySimulator throughout the year in support of the organisation’s 2013 Fire Safety Awareness Campaign. “Statistics show that most fires originate in the engine room as a result of oil leaking onto hot surfaces and deficiencies in fire related safety measures are among the most common causes for detention by Port State Control,” said Tuva Flagstad-Andersen, head of section machinery and systems at DNV.

Through simulation, DNV is able to show examples of both acceptable and not acceptable configurations based on the accumulated knowledge of thousands of inspections. “This depth of experience would take many, many years for a single person to gain on the job. We make it readily accessible with Sesam SurveySimulator in a well-supported, modular learning environment,” said Dabrowski.

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