Leading lifeboat and davit manufacturer Schat-Harding is to launch a new generation freefall lifeboat for the offshore industry. The FF1200 boat and matching davit will have a capacity for up to 70 persons and will be suitable for drop heights from platforms and other offshore units up to 33 m above sea level in extreme conditions. The unique feature of the new design is that it meets all the new OLF (The Norwegian Oil Industry Association) design criteria for lifeboats in the Norwegian offshore sector, which leads the world in offshore safety standards.
Compared to all existing lifeboat designs the FF1200 has additional clearance inside the boat for safety and comfort with a more streamlined shape and powerful engine to give better headway in waves. Improved structural design will maximise canopy strength during the drop and splash in and a new seat design is based on heavier workers, with an average weight of 100 kg. Five point seatbelts will keep passengers from 1.4 m to 2.1 m tall safe and comfortable even with high drop heights into heavy waves.
Once safely in the sea a high power diesel engine will deliver approximately three times the thrust of current freefall boat engines, and extensive model tests have resulted in a form which gives excellent performance in a seaway.
Schat-Harding is leading the development of new seats, safety belts and head protection for freefall lifeboats which will dramatically improve safety in the offshore industry.
New research has shown that some passengers in high-drop freefall boats can be exposed to very high g forces, especially when the boat is launched into heavy seas. Current lifeboat regulations do not take these into account, and that has led to rig shut downs in some sea conditions as lifeboat capacity has had to be derated to suit the conditions. So Schat-Harding, working with the OLF, has introduced a new seat, seat belt and head protection arrangement which will ensure that all personnel in the lifeboat are protected from high g forces when launched even into the troughs of large waves.
The new seats and head restraints have been tested at the TNO Automotive test centre in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The tests are based on a worst case scenario with waves up to 15 m significant height. Seats and restraints based on the principles proven in the test will be fitted to the new FF1200 and also be available for retrofit to the FF1000 and FF48 freefall boats in service.
Schat-Harding is working ahead of changes to regulations and leading the way for the industry. It hopes that changes will be made to SOLAS to account for wave heights and for larger passengers so that all freefall boats will in future meet Schat-Harding standards.
Main dimensions of the FF1200 are:
It will be constructed from glassfibre reinforced polyester and manufactured with infusion or closed vacuum moulded techniques to ensure a strong and consistent laminate. The laminates will be dimensioned to the highest standard (ULS- Ultimate Limit State) based upon maximum loads acting when free-falling into large waves.
A full size prototype will be tested at the end of 2008. Orders for the new boats have already been received from BP Norge for the Skarv FPSO and Valhall RD, and Talisman Energy for the Yme RD. The first delivery is due March 2009.
OLF, The Norwegian Oil Industry Association, is a professional body and employer's association for oil and supplier companies engaged in the field of exploration and production of oil and gas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
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