VIKING liferafts among market’s safest

Esbjerg. Denmark, 26 May 2010. Following recent press coverage of leisure liferaft equipment failures in tests carried out by Swedish transport authorities, VIKING Life-saving Equipment A/S has quickly reacted to reassure its customers that the serious faults identified are not connected with VIKING products.

The leading global manufacturer of marine safety equipment has been informed that the authorities found fault with a brand of hydrostatic release unit (HRU) supplied with the liferafts of a competing manufacturer. VIKING’s products, on the other hand, use well-tested release units produced by CM Hammar AB, a market leader in release units for liferafts as well as hydrostatic inflators for lifejackets.

A hydrostatic release unit is a vital component in a modern liferaft, ensuring that the liferaft automatically surfaces and inflates if it has not already been manually activated. Hydrostatic release units from CM Hammar have earned a world-leading position and are today the biggest selling hydrostatic release units in the world. The company’s Hammar H20 product has more approvals from shipping authorities than any other release unit.

VIKING CEO Henrik Uhd Christensen is, however, pleased that the Swedish authorities have conducted the recent tests. “We fully support the current attention being given to the poor quality of some marine lifesaving equipment. This market is about saving human lives – and when it’s time to actually use a liferaft, few people will appreciate the money they may have saved by purchasing an inferior product. We can only hope that the problems are isolated to very few of the liferafts.”

Christensen also stresses the need for clearer, more factual reporting of test findings in the media. “The news article I have seen doesn’t specify the manufacturer of the faulty equipment, which is an omission that can create panic in the marketplace – even for high-quality products like our own that have nothing at all to do with the problem. Our corporate position on quality should be quite clear to all: VIKING life-saving equipment is often the last possible means of rescue in an emergency situation, so it is critical that our equipment functions perfectly when it is needed.”

VIKING products are tested at four critical stages: during development, for approval, at the production and packing stage, and for larger vessels often again on installation. All products are tested to industry standards and according to the relevant authorities, including SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea). Liferafts are subjected to rough sea trials, wind velocity tests of up to 30 metres per second, and deployment at extremely low temperatures. Additionally, each liferaft is fully inflated three times before shipment.