When new safety regulations enter into force, sometimes the best solution is to change the way of thinking and style of design instead of just trying to comply with the new rules. With a fresh view, competent designers can improve the overall safety and functionality of the ship without compromising the passenger experience in difficult situations.
Safe Return to Port (SRtP) refers to SOLAS regulation adopted by IMO resolution MSC.216(82), which entered into force on July 1, 2010. The regulation requires passenger vessels with a length of 120 metres or more or with three or more main vertical zones to be designed for improved survivability. This means that, in the event of a flood or fire emergency, passengers and crew can stay safely on board as the ship proceeds to the closest port under her own power. It defines a threshold where the ship’s crew should be able to make the ship return to port without requiring passengers to evacuate, while keeping them in habitable conditions.
In the big picture, fulfilling the SRtP regulations means extensive changes in design and new operating procedures for the personnel of the ship. Several systems need to be arranged redundant, so that fire or flooding in one space does not paralyse the entire system but remains capable of serving the ship and the persons onboard while the ship heads to the closest port.
The easiest way to fulfil the SRtP regulations is to divide the ship into two redundant parts. This may lead to a situation where a small casualty shuts down half the ship. In such a situation, people should be moved to safe areas, but their relaxing holiday cruise would be ruined. We at Deltamarin aim to design the systems so that the effects of this kind of small casualty can easily be isolated from the rest of the system. For the passengers onboard, the casualty may not be visible at all and the cruise may continue as if nothing had happened.
Deltamarin’s experience of several Safe Return to Port ships and the continuous development of our design tools give us a head start in designing functional and cost-efficient systems. It is unlikely that the ship will encounter a severe Safe Return to Port casualty during her lifespan. Thus, we do not only try to fulfil the SRtP rules but also design the systems in a way that the design supports the use of the system in normal operation. Instead of assembling a number of additional items of equipment onboard, we tend to resolve the redundancy with alternative arrangements and routings as far as possible. This kind of an approach also minimises the effects on the weight of the ship. In addition to this, the simpler the system remains, the easier it is for the crew to operate the ship and be aware of what kind of effects the casualties may have.
Not only good design but also well-structured documentation of different casualties and systems help the master and other personnel of the ship to limit the possible casualty efficiently and safely. Detailed analysis and comprehensive documentation give the master of the ship the possibility to estimate the risk of the casualty and decide on needed actions. Safety design is not only about fulfilling the rules but also caring about human lives and the environment.
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