Supporting the cruise industry bounceback

Ian Nash from SPS Technology discusses the need for riding squads to carry out essential work on ships

Supporting the cruise industry bounceback
Riding squads will have to be given access to ships to perform essentials maintenance work, says Ian Nash

By Ian Nash |

The Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) recent announcement that it is developing a new health framework to uphold the safety of guests and prepare for future operations in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis is welcome news.

CLIA’s updates come at a time when most of the world’s cruise ships remain in port under strict restrictions in what is described as ‘hot lay-up’. Most cruise lines have stipulated that they will begin to operate some vessels – on some routes where there are fewer restrictions – when it is deemed safe by authorities. However, many ships could remain idle until 2021.

For those vessels expected to return to operation, meeting strict class items is essential and currently, in the UK at least, there is a 90 days referral protocol in place for critical-class items.

CLIA plans to define the specific screening, cleansing and medical protocols that cruise lines would need to adopt globally, in addition to those already in place, with priority being given to the safety and security of guests, crew and the communities that cruise lines visit. However, CLIA’s statement omitted to mention that it will be necessary to allow riding squads to also service vessels amid an expected long delay in access to drydocks.

While much of the focus for maintenance and repair access will be to allow riding squads to complete interior outfitting work and freshen up the ships that have had to postpone dry dock projects, these teams will also need to carry out steel work to enable a smooth transition from lay-up.

By utilising strict safety guidelines to meet Covid-19 restrictions and observing all other health and safety standards, riding squads can safely carry out permanent class-approved structural steel repairs and maintenance works through the use of ‘no hot work’ solutionswhile vessels are in operation to tight deadlines and key performance indicators. Crucially, after working with lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Cunard and P&O Cruises, riding squads have the experience to go onboard and carry out steel work with minimum disruption. This will negate costly downtime when commercial operations are allowed to restart, and, with careful planning, there will be no need for ship-side support. 

The types of work undertaken by SPS’s riding squads that might normally be conducted in alongside or in dry dock include projects for bulkheads, decks, fuel tank thermal barriers, machinery space upgrades and side shell protection. Moreover, the inherent characteristics of SPS provide operating benefits including high impact resistance, A60 fire, blast and fragment protection,and vibration and sound damping.

SPS’s riding squads solution was established with a clear recognition that time is money. For a fully utilised cruise ship, daily earnings can be as much as millions of dollars per day. The impact of preventing sailing, not least given the urgent requirement for cruise lines to plug some holes in their income projections for 2020, could not be more costly.

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