As the cruise industry continues to prosper, so too does Survitec, a specialist in marine evacuation systems (MES). Survitec has a history of more than 160 years, with 2020 marking the centenary since RFD, now part of Survitec, was founded.
The story of RFD’s technology dates back to 1920 with the introduction of an aircraft flotation product, essentially an inflatable ring, to prevent planes sinking when ditched. This technology quickly evolved to become dual purpose also providing a means to rescue aircrew in an emergency.
As technologies and methodologies became more sophisticated, self-inflating life rafts became larger and in 1979, RFD launched the first ever purpose-built marine evacuation system.
Over four decades, the original product range has been enhanced through design and acquisition, now including such brands as DSB, SurvitecZodiac and Brude.
“Survitec is the original MES design authority,” said Richard McCormick, Survitec’s Technical Sales Director. The primary focus of any safety equipment is safety and reliability – especially in the context of survival products including MES. “If any one component does not perform, it could jeopardize the integrity of the product or system completely, not to mention the lives of those depending on it should disaster strike,” said McCormick. “It is therefore imperative that all critical safety equipment is correctly installed, regularly serviced, maintained and regulatory compliant. Crew training is also essential to ensure correct use of the equipment.” Survitec’s MES equipment is robustly engineered, comprehensively tested and approved to the latest standards. All told Survitec has installed and deployed more than 2,500 MES units on over 800 vessels worldwide.
The Survitec Range
Survitec offers an extensive range of bespoke MES solutions to suit individual vessels, offering capacities of up to 860 persons, using slide or chute-based technology, as appropriate, from evacuation heights of up to 33m. The largest single system, for example, the Marin Ark 2, is designed to evacuate 860 people in less than 30 minutes.
One of the latest references for Survitec’s MES is the Stena Estrid, the first of Stena Line’s new E-Flexer class of RoPax vessel, which was delivered from the AVIC yard in China at the end of 2019 and entered service on the Irish Sea between Dublin and Holyhead in mid-January 2020. Stena Estrid is fitted with the 100th Marin Ark 2 MES unit.
To start the process, Survitec engineers carry out a thorough evaluation of the ship’s design, its areas of operation, and the profile of the crew and passengers likely to use the system. Each system undergoes testing to the MSC 81(70) Paragraph 12.6 performance standards, which simulate real-life emergencies, corresponding to Beaufort 6 winds and over 3m significant wave heights. This is in addition to Survitec’s own in-house tests.
“Survitec is also the only MES manufacturer to hold ISO9001, MED Mod B & D and AS100 Aero certification,” said McCormick. “This is an aviation industry approval standard, which is very difficult to achieve due to the extensive approval requirements.”
Extra quality measures are taken in the manufacturing and packing process to ensure reliability. “We visit our stowage subcontractor weekly to witness the build and all testing activity and our manufacturing process is overseen by independent quality personnel who perform in process inspection and testing, as well as end of line testing,” said McCormick. “To mitigate risk of human error once a system has been manufactured, Survitec employ experienced packers and, as an additional measure, adopt a buddy system to ensure conformity. Another additional measure is that we have an independent marshal process in place for our packing and stowage loading activity.”
Once a MES is installed and commissioned, Survitec takes responsibility for training customer’s personnel. Servicing and testing are carried out by the company’s approved service stations, each of which undergoes periodic, rigorous auditing to ensure that every MES is serviced to the same standards using the exact procedures regardless of location.
The company’s service network includes more than 500 service stations, and its online servicing platform is designed to enable fast and easy access to the full service and operational records of every system.
SEAHAVEN: The Future is Now
Survitec’s latest innovation is the Seahaven Advanced Evacuation System (AES) designed for large cruise vessels. The AES is a slide-based evacuation system designed specifically for cruise ships, a system based on inflatable lifeboats served by multiple slides. With Seahaven, each lifeboat can accommodate 530 persons, a total of 1,060 in each system. The multiple slides are designed for quick evacuation for both able bodied and mobility impaired people, permitting groups to descend together. It is designed to be deployed in less than four minutes courtesy of its ergonomically designed launch system that does away with conventional davits.