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Published in: Cruise News

Viking's LifeCraft system was put to the test in rough seas, with wave heights up to 50 percent above the stipulated heavy weather testing requirements, according to a statement.

The new system is aimed at cruise lines as a hybrid solution, intended to replace lifeboats/liferafts, and now the system has passed the Heavy Weather Sea Trials (HWST).

The new evacuation system combined the advantages of modern lifeboats, such as self-propelled maneuverability, with the flexibility, comfort and smaller footprint of liferafts combined with marine evacuation systems, the company said, in a prepared statement.

The solution includes four inflatable LifeCraft survival crafts each with a capacity of 203 persons and a fully self-contained stowage and launching appliance either placed on deck or built into the ship’s side.

“The HWST involved launching and testing how well the LifeCraft system performs in high winds, stormy seas and extreme weather conditions,” said Niels Fraende, vice president of cruise and LifeCraft. “We launched the LifeCraft with the ship heading three knots up against the wind, exposing the system to the full force of the fierce weather in the most critical test phase. We then demonstrated – with a simulated dead ship condition – that the fully loaded LifeCraft system provides a safe and stable means of evacuation in both the weather and lee side for several hours.

“In addition, we quickly and successfully maneuvered the LifeCraft survival crafts on both sides of the vessel to a safe distance, demonstrating their built-in flexibility to move rescue-capacity to wherever it is most needed. Simulating station-keeping while waiting for rescue, we performed a 24-hour controlled drift test in the battering seas with no damage sustained to the survival crafts.”

The tests were carried out on the North Sea between southern Norway and United Kingdom.

The LifeCraft was ballasted with 70 tons to simulate full capacity and was then subjected to brutal wind gusts with speeds of up to 18 m/s in addition to significant wave heights of between 3.6 and 4.6 meters.

“The LifeCraft exhibited superior maneuverability, sailing away from the ship much faster than required. We achieved this with the wind at our front as well as our backs, which makes it an even more impressive feat,” added Fraende.

The tests also featured the system’s chute arrangement, which coped with the ship’s list and trim.

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