Survitec makes a leap forward in maritime safety

Richard McCormick shares how marine evacuation system will expedite cruise ship evacuations

Survitec makes a leap forward in maritime safety
Survitec’s slide-based systems are easy to use, take up less deck space and facilitate faster evacuations

By Rebecca Gibson |

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Safety at sea has come a long way since the first inflatable liferafts were introduced in 1932. However, despite the significant improvements that have been made to safety craft, the maritime industry isn’t resting on its laurels and continues to innovate to find new and better ways to further reduce risk to passenger and crew on the open ocean.

This dynamism is particularly evident in the number of new products that are being developed and tested to make it safer for passengers when they need to abandon vessels. This includes Survitec’s slide-based offering, which we are confident will transform the evacuation process by cutting the time taken to safely offboard thousands of passengers.

Survitec already offers a SuperSlide marine evacuation system (MES) for use on high-speed craft and small- to medium-sized ferries. However, size limitations have prevented this technology from being transferred to the cruise industry due to the sheer size of the vessels and their freeboards and beams – until now. Using new technologies developed in our own research and development laboratories – and using expertise and capabilities from our aviation and defence segments – we believe we’ve developed the solution the industry has been waiting for.

A chief motivator behind conceptualising a slide-based system was understanding the psychology of the passenger. Very few people will ever be faced with an evacuation scenario, but for those placed in such a highly stressful situation, slides are instinctive. Everyone knows how to use them, they are accessible to people with mobility impairments and family groups can descend together in full view of each other – a huge reassurance at a troubling time.  

This comfort – as well as the increased capacity and quicker evacuation times – was behind the design of the original SuperSlide and the new larger-scale slide system will take this to the next level for cruise operators. It will enable them to disembark passengers much more quickly in the event of an emergency.

Although accidents at sea are less common than they once were, when they do unfortunately occur, humans usually play a large part. Our new system will activate almost instantly at the click of a button, so crew members have fewer actions to perform and this further reduces risk. 

Another major advantage of this new type of evacuation system for cruise operators is that it saves a lot of space. Removing the need for lifeboats (not to mention all their associated launch equipment, such as davits) could drastically increase the amount of deck space that is available for other uses, such as more cabins, which would boost profitability. 

As far as we’ve come in the 86 years since inflatable liferafts were introduced, we genuinely believe our new system will represent a significant step on the historical timeline of maritime safety. It will give cruise passengers – and operators – significant peace of mind and duty of care every time they set sail.

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