Marine Evacuation Systems (MES) served by liferafts is an efficient and widely used method for mass evacuation at sea. With passenger ship capacities increasing, the ability of MES to evacuate hundreds of people in a matter of has been tested exhaustively in Beaufort Sea State 6 conditions.
MES and liferafts – five things you need to know
To be compliant, liferafts must be designed in accordance with SOLAS Chapter lll and the LSA Code. All VIKING liferafts are compliant with these standards and are fully approved for use with MES by the following authorities: EU Maritime Equipment Directive, Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, Canadian Coast Guard and Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
MES is mostly deployed on passenger vessels as a supplement or replacement for lifeboats. Chutes and slides are the two most common technologies for getting evacuees from deck to sea level. MES solutions are also available for the offshore sector, where evacuation heights can go as high as 81m. Here the liferafts are served by a zig-zag chute made from aramid.
Liferafts are subjected to specific tests at intervals according to international regulations to ensure their readiness for use with the MES: Gas inflation stress test every 5 years using own CO2 cylinder; necessary additional pressure test at at 11 years, then annually; floor seam test to check seams of the internal floor conducted at 10 years, then annually.
In addition to Factory Acceptance Tests, type approvals and performance verification at its dedicated shoreside facilities, VIKING’s Development Test and Verification (DTV) department undertakes sea trials in northern waters – typically at depths of 200-300 meters off the coasts of Norway, the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.
While not addressed separately by the Polar Code, MES must be operational at the Polar Service Temperature (at least 10°C colder than the lowest Mean Day Low Temperature), be protected from ice and use enclosed survival craft.
MES and VIKING – five things worth knowing
VIKING has placed 1,500 marine evacuation systems in operation on passenger ships over a 30-year period and an additional 500+ SES-type systems for offshore assets.
VIKING supplies Chute and Dual Chute Systems, Mini Chute Systems, Offshore Chute systems, Slide Systems, Mini Slide Systems, and Direct boarding liferafts. In fact, a VIKING MES is available to meet the needs of everything from a superyacht or ferry to the largest cruise ships or offshore platform in the world.
VIKING offers MES solutions in versions designed to evacuate 51 persons to the highest capacity chute systems on the market, handling over 900 passengers in 30 minutes. For the offshore systems - the requirement followed is 10 minutes.
Beyond SOLAS compliance, all VIKING offshore evacuation systems are constructed according to specifications outlined in the MODU Code, NORSOK, PSA (Petroleum Safety Authority Norway) regulations, NMA regulations, and more. Only VIKING can offer solutions for all offshore installation types – including wind farm substations.
Each MES requires only 1-2 crew to deploy. Systems feature chutes with 1-4 inflatable liferafts attached in a stowage box launched from the evacuation deck to sea level.
VIKING liferafts - five things it’s nice to know
MES and all associated liferaft from VIKING are available under extended 30-month service period agreements. Fully approved according to SOLAS and HSC codes, VIKING ‘S30’ liferafts have been shown to reduce maintenance costs without compromising safety.
VIKING’s range of throw-overboard and davit-launchable liferafts are available in standard versions and in automatically self-righting versions with stowage heights up to 60m.
Due to restrictions placed on training facilities during Covid-19, VIKING developed a series of additional e-learning tools to reinforce safety messaging for MES serving crews.
The life expectancy of liferafts from VIKING is 15-20 years.
While IMO regulations envisage the average weight of persons abandoning ship as 82.5kgs, VIKING is working on solutions based on scaling up equipment, seating and emergency kit contents to accommodate higher average weights up to 110 kg.