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Surfacing System for Ship Recovery

European Union
Geo-spatial type
Total project cost
€3 999 935
EU Contribution
€2 650 000
Project website
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Vehicle design and manufacturing (VDM)
Transport mode
Waterborne icon
Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Call for proposal
Link to CORDIS
Background & Policy context

The propagation of spillages is one of the biggest environmental problems after a ship disaster. Instead of cleaning the dirty areas the SUSY system minimises the spillages by stabilising vessels immediately after an accident. Additionally the same technology can be used to lift sunken vessels with less effort than is currently the case.


The main goal of the project was the development of well-known submarine rescue technology into systems usable for merchant ships in emergency situations. The systems for submarines are based on satellite booster technology with liquid or solid fuel to blow water out of the ballast tanks in a very short time to provide additional buoyancy to stop, for instance, an uncontrolled diving process.


Combining this technology with air pressure systems and balloon technology to create a multi-purpose modular system for ship rescue purposes was the target of the SUSY project. Therefore the booster technology combined with pressure air technologies had to be adapted to the salvage procedure requirements. In combination with new balloon textiles a secure vessel stabilisation process as well as the salvage process will be supported. Different application scenarios/concepts were envisaged:

  • preventive installation of rescue systems on ships with hazardous cargo;
  • equipment for coast guard and rescue squads to quickly stabilise capsized ships; and 
  • equipment for teams to lift sunken ships.

The technical challenges for SUSY where research is needed to develop the envisaged systems were:

  • developing a hydro-dynamical and a thermo-dynamical model as basis for a controlled process for the different possible scenarios;
  • developing a safety and secure buoyancy generating system based on liquid, solid fuel and air pressure;
  • find the right material to cope with the pressure the temperature and the dynamic loads of a rescue scenario;
  • define a life-cycle cost model to assure the design of a low cost modular system; and
  • simulate the different scenarios to provide input for the design optimisation.

Finally, the SUSY project wet out to build a prototype to prove the concept in real sea tests.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
The European Commission
Type of funding
Public (EU)
Other Programme
Programme acronym or name (optional)
Funding Source
Information about the funding institution (optional)


The project introduced a prototype rescue system for preventive installation use on board merchant ships in emergency situations and as salvage tools. Two modes of deployment were tested in sea trials: Firstly, 'Internal' where balloons installed in protective covers within the double-bottomed test compartment were inflated, keeping it afloat until repairs or other emergency measures are implemented. Secondly, 'Salvage' where external balloons and gas generator packs were attached, providing support sub-surface and allowing the test compartment to be recovered to the surface. The systems successfully deployed during testing, structural loadings were within acceptable limits and stabilisation was achieved.

In addition to the main outcome of a functioning prototype system there were several secondary outcomes namely:

  • Development of a time domain model of ship damage propagation under wave loading. This has potential in risk based ship design and accident investigation.
  • Development of a hydrodynamic model and sliding mode controller for controlling the raising of sunken ships.
  • Development of improved methods of life cycle modelling and application within SuSy. The enhancements to this system have potential within more general consulting work.

Generally the major impact of the SUSY system comprises:

  • Avoiding loss of life by preventing ships from sinking or further structural damage at least long enough to allow a safe evacuation.
  • Saving money by avoiding the loss of ships and cargo.
  • Avoiding pollution caused by hazardous cargo, oil or other material that could be spilled from the ship into the sea.
  • Transferring the results into the world-wide maritime industry in order to promote these impacts also into countries that are not directly related to the project

Innovation aspects

The SUSY concept is based on the following main innovative technologies:

  • Gas generators to produce high amount of buoyancy in a short time;
  • High pressure air devices to stabilise the buoyancy for a longer time period;
  • High tech textiles for balloons for the buoyancy gas;
  • Underwater vehicles to attach the SUSY devices to a sunken vessel;
  • Simulation technologies to predict the behaviour of the ship with the operating SUSY system.

Strategy targets

An efficient and integrated mobility system: acting on transport safety, saving thousands of lives.


Lead Organisation
Bmt British Maritime Technology
Orlando House, 1 Waldegrave Road, TEDDINGTON, UK - TW 118LZ, United Kingdom
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€378 635
Partner Organisations
European Commission
Rue de la Loi 170, 1040 Brussels, Belgium
EU Contribution
€493 101
National Technical University Of Athens
Heroon Polytechniou 9 (polytechnic campus), 15780 ZOGRAFOS, Greece
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€493 101
Hellenic Centre For Marine Research
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€165 509
Bureau Veritas
Boulevard du Château 67-71, 92571 NEUILLY SUR SEINE, France
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€152 780
Naval Group
Rue Du Docteur Finlay 40-42, 75015 Paris, France
EU Contribution
€211 789
Dsb Deutsche Schlauchboot
N/A, Germany
EU Contribution
€139 345
Balance Technology Consulting
Contrescarpe 33, 28203 BREMEN, Germany
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€365 594
Airbus Defence And Space Gmbh
Ludwig-Boelkow-Allee 1, 85521 Ottobrunn, Germany
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€379 270
University Of Strathclyde
Richmond Street, Glasgow, G1 1XQ, United Kingdom
Organisation website
EU Contribution
€363 977


Technology Theme
Safety systems
Submarine rescue technology
Development phase

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