Survitec’s Seahaven, claimed to be the world’s largest inflatable lifeboat, has completed the IMO A.520 physical tests as required by class society Lloyd’s Register (LR).
It was officially launched to the cruise industry during Seatrade Cruise Global this week.
The 1,060-capacity inflatable lifeboat system for cruise vessels successfully completed the stringent tests, including ship sinking scenarios and a timed evacuation, which was achieved in less than 22 minutes.
Under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) rules, evacuation should not exceed 30 minutes.
The A.520 tests followed the December, 2021 heavy weather sea trials (HWST), carried out in line with SOLAS requirements for Novel Appliances.
The trials saw Seahaven deployed from ’EDT Jane’, an 80 m long offshore support vessel, with representatives from class and observers from the UK’s MCA in attendance.
During the tests, conditions were created similar to those that seafarers and passengers would encounter in a real-life evacuation.
Seahaven is claimed to be unusual in that it is the first lifeboat to have been through, and continues to go through, an exhaustive reliability testing programme that far exceeds the testing requirements set out by SOLAS.
“In keeping with our long-standing and over-arching commitment to safety, Survitec has continuously delivered innovative survival technology that meet the needs of cruise ships not just for today but well into the future.
“Our multi-faceted testing programme exceeds the SOLAS statutory requirements and proves Seahaven is reliable and more importantly safer than current evacuation arrangements,” said Claude Sada, Managing Director Survitec Survival Craft.
Richard McCormick, Survitec Product Manager AES and MES, described Seahaven as “providing a totally different outlook on evacuation at sea.”
“With Seahaven, we have taken all the safety features, testing and type approval processes associated with lifeboats and MES to solve the challenge of being able to evacuate growing numbers of passengers quickly, safely and comfortably,” McCormick said.
Seahaven is launched by just a push of a button and automatically inflates, taking four minutes to deploy. Once deployed, the inflatable lifeboat can travel independently for 24 hours at a speed of six knots.
Survitec began developing the solution following its early involvement with the EU-led and -funded Safedor project, which worked with class societies, operators and flag states to integrate safety as a design objective into ship design and risk assessment into approval frameworks.
The recent tests and sea trials represent the culmination of this process for the company.
Survitec is teaming up with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), Independent Maritime Advisors and a major shipbuilder to deliver a cruise ship design incorporating Seahaven.
The companies have established an industry working group with a view to installing Seahaven as the primary
means of evacuation on board Norwegian Cruise Line’s next ‘Prima’ Class cruise ship.
Seahaven works in conjunction with a marine evacuation system (MES), the first of which was installed on board ‘Norwegian Epic’ in 2009.
Ron Krisanda, Executive Chairman, Survitec, explained: “Our involvement in this important project is a testament to the strong relationship we have with NCLH as their trusted safety solutions partner. We are delighted to be working alongside these visionary organisations to help equip cruise ships of the future with pioneering survival technology.”
“Seahaven also offers opportunities for naval architects to optimise vessel design,” added McCormick.
Typically, a 4,000-pax capacity cruise ship would require at least 12 to 16 lifeboats and up to four MES with liferafts, taking about 30 minutes to evacuate the
Just four Seahaven’s, would be required to evacuate the same number of passengers in the same amount of time, Survitec claimed.