The strategic, political and economic importance of shipping to the EU economy and the tendency to build passenger ships carrying more than 5 000 passengers, imply a strengthening of European safety regulations. Maritime safety is therefore an important parameter for Europe's future: a major calamity, such as flooding or fire, would have catastrophic consequences, and special focus should be given to the means of rescue.
However, maritime safety should not be regarded solely as statically protective, as it requires a dynamic engagement with evolving challenges and therefore requires adaptive responses based on the best available knowledge and technologies.
By taking the lead in improving human safety and by providing standards for all lifesaving appliances, Europe can strengthen its position and maintain its influence on the market.
The main objective is to study the improvement of ships' evacuation systems in terms of passenger/crew survivability by conceptual improvements of current lifesaving appliances (LSA). Little scientific evidence is available on the effectiveness of LSAs in realistic conditions and no technical evidence seems to be available on the performance of the rescue system, i.e. hardware and procedures/management.
The SAFECRAFTS project analyses the rescue process as a whole and considers non-conventional measures, in order to increase the effectiveness of safety investments and save space on board ship.
The project undertakes the rescue process by both quantifying the performance of current LSAs and improving the concept of reaching the rescue vessel in a safe and reliable manner. The challenge is to exploit a first principles approach (regarding hydromechanics, mechanics, human behaviour, quantitative risk assessment and emergency management) in the design of rescue systems for passengers and crew, addressing both hardware and procedures/management issues.
1. Hardware performance assessment: the evacuation hardware can be characterised by physical parameters, but also with respect to what is required from passengers in order to successfully use the hardware, e.g. height of the steps to be taken for boarding a lifeboat, including the effect of vessel movement.
2. Procedures: the performance of passengers under an evacuation can be characterised by parameters which can quantify passenger abilities. Examples are the ability to climb/descend or the ability to survive violent motions during a lifeboat launch. Psychological aspects related to passenger behaviour are also considered in a pragmatic fashion.
As stated safety levels must be supported by sound scientific evidence, the project undertakes scale and full scale tests.
The project focuses on researching current evacuation craft, and also undertakes the development of new concepts, with the overall goal of assessing and testing their life-saving performance. The complete rescue process is therefore investigated, from abandoning the ship until leaving the survival craft in a safe refuge area.
The project is carried out along the following steps:
- identify appropriate parameters to assess the performance of evacuation systems in a quantitative fashion;
- identify and modify calculation tools to predict evacuation hardware performance in terms of physical circumstances to which passengers will be subjected, as well as mechanical reliability;
- acquire well-documented and reproducible test data on physical performance which can be expected from passengers;
- aquire well-documented and reproducible test data on characteristics of existing evacuation hardware
- use data from tests on existing hardware to modify and tune the calculation tools;
- generate new evacuation concepts;
- predict the characteristics of these concepts with relation to physical circumstances to which passengers will be subjected when using these new systems, as well as mechanical reliability;
- build a demonstrator of the most promising concept and put it to the test.
One of the main challenges - and objective of this project - was to find a way to asses ship evacuation systems. This way is paved by identifying a parameter which quantifies the performance of ship evacuation systems. In order to be able to compare systems, the parameter should be system non specific. This can be achieved by understanding that the only factor the systems have in common is the human factor. Whatever an evacuation system looks like, it always has to deal with humans which have to be evacuated (evacuees). So in the end the only thing that matters is the well being of these humans. Well being can be quantified with a parameter which we have called the Human health status (HHS). This parameter is a four element vector specifying the human health. Each element gives the fraction of humans in each particular health status; the sum of the fractions in each of the 4 elements is always 1.0.
The other goal of the project was to generate two novel concepts for ship evacuation. Out of many ideas, two most promising concepts were selected. These concepts have been further developed.
- One concept, called the Self propelled survival craft (SPSC), consists of multiple modules. These modules are stored at or near the centre line, in the aft of the mother ship. The modules are ejected over the stern, and slide along a ramp towards the water. The SPSC concept requires an amount of space similar to conventional boats, however, the space is now located inside the ship, which is less valuable from an operational commercial point of view. Deck space, required for conventional life boats, is the most valuable space in the ship. A slide ramp, as a launching mechanism, is considered less vulnerable, compared to a davit based launching system, especially in terms of control, complexity of the mechanics and maintenance.
- The other concept is a life raft with partially rigid sides. This concept is called Hard sided life raft (HASLIR). The rigid sides contain propulsion, by means of small diesel engines or electric motors propelling thrusters. Effectively, thus a self propelled life raft is created. The HASLIR is still located at the 'boat' deck; however, the space required for storage is substantially smaller than the space required for life boats. Moreover, unlike lifeboats, only one deck level is affected for storage. Also the launching mechanism is very simple because of the HASLIRS low weight, a simple stores crane will be sufficient.
The SAFECRAFTS project has managed