The SOLAS regulation on Life Saving Equipment (LSA) code 18.104.22.168 states: “No lifeboat shall be approved to accommodate more than 150 persons.” However, the regulations do actually provide procedures for using lifeboats of greater capacity providing it can be demonstrated that they have an equivalent level of safety. Schat-Harding has developed a 370-person lifeboat and davit system. The Oasis of the Seas cruise ship was the first vessel to be fitted with these new mega lifeboats.
As the size and capacity of modern cruise ship has increased there becomes a potential problem of having sufficient space to fit the required number of lifeboats. The cruise ship Oasis of the Sea is fitted with 18 of the new mega lifeboats. A total of over 44 of the traditional 150 persons lifeboats would have to be fitted to accommodate the same number of passengers. The overall length of the Oasis of the Seas has an overall length of 360m. The typical length of a 150 person lifeboat would be approximately 9.6m. So if fitted at a single level they would take up a length of over 210m (noise-to-tail) on each side of the vessel.
The new CRW55 mega lifeboat has a catamaran hull with a length of 16.7m, breath of 5.6m, weights 17tonnes in stowed condition and 45tonnes when fully loaded with passengers and crew. It is fitted with two 170hp diesel engines providing a top speed of 6 knots and twin rudders for increased manoeuvrability.
The seating is arranged in two levels designed to reduce the time taken to board all the people into the lifeboat. The main cabin deck will seat 280 people in longitudinal benches and the upper seating area will seat 80 persons in longitudinal benches and another 10 in the large steering tower near the helmsman’s position. The lifeboat also has an onboard toilet and two stretchers stored in the wheelhouse.
These mega lifeboats are fabricated from fibreglass reinforced polyester using a mould vacuum process. The seating area is contained within a self-draining inner skin and all the walking areas within the cabin have a non-skid coating.
The lifeboats are stowed and launched from a specially designed davit systems, which allows them to be lowered directly into the water from their stowed position rather than having to first swing out the davit and lifeboat before launch. The winches have a retraction system to lift the lowing block free from the lifeboat canopy and a retardation function to reduce the forces on the davit, winch system and lifeboat hook when stopped.
The mega lifeboats are hung from two 25tonne wear-less cam system quick release hooks, which have a clear locked or unlocked visual indicator. Passenger embarkation is directly into the lifeboat in its stowed position through four colour coded doors leading to the ergonomically designed colour coded seating areas.