Viking Heavy Weather Tests High-Capacity Passenger Evacuation System for Cruise Ships

viking lifecraft system
Photo: Viking Life-Saving Equipment

Danish life-saving equipment manufacturer Viking Life-Saving has successfully test its new high-capacity passenger evacuation system, bringing it one step closer to market for large cruise ship operators worldwide.

Viking calls the system the most exciting innovation in passenger evacuation systems in decades.

Known as LifeCraft™, the system combines the advantages of lifeboats and liferafts, and is comprised of four self-propelled inflatable VIKING LifeCrafts with a capacity of 200 persons each, so 800 in total. Each features a fully self-contained stowage and launching appliance placed on deck or built into the ship’s side, and an EscapeWay™ chute system for the safe evacuation of passengers. The four crafts are powered by electric motors, instead of diesel-driven units.

Viking announced this week that the LifeCraft™ system recently underwent successful Heavy Weather Sea Trial (HWST), during which wave heights were up to 50% above the stipulated heavy weather testing requirements, with brutal wind gusts and significant wave heights between 3.6 and 4.6 meters.

“Towering peak waves of 10 meters greatly exceeded the required 3 meters needed for the trials, with the personnel from VIKING and DNV GL battling sea-sickness and heaving decks to conclude the tests,” according to Viking.

viking lifecraft system
Photo: Viking LIfe-Saving Equipment

The company said the successful trial marks an important milestone in the products path to commercial use.

“The HWST involved launching and testing how well the LifeCraft™ system performs in high winds, stormy seas and extreme weather conditions,” said Niels Fraende, VP Cruise & LifeCraft™. “We launched the LifeCraft™ with the ship heading 3 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,” Fraende added.

With heavy weather sea trials now complete, all that remains are a few tests of the system’s container, along with documentation and final approval by the Danish Maritime Authority (DMA).

Here’s more on how the LifeCraft™ works: