Foreship counsels caution on expedition ship rush
Booming demand for expedition ships should not mean that good and safe shipbuilding practices for passenger vessels are compromised, leading naval architecture and engineering company Foreship has warned.
The consultancy, which has more cruise ship construction, consultation and conversion design references than any other company, believes that lack of consistency in the initial designs being rushed to market for vessels of around 10,000 GT may conflict with established safety and environmental values.
“Some designs we have seen do not meet the cruise ship Safe Return to Port (SRtP) provisions that were developed for a very good reason at the International Maritime Organization,” said Markus Aarnio, chairman, Foreship.
“These are smaller vessels, but they are still complex passenger ships; as such, they need to be envisaged as cruise ships from the outset.”
Mr Aarnio said he is particularly concerned that some proposed expedition ships designs are tailor-made to avoid SRtP requirements, as they have two overlength main vertical zones or one vertical zone which is “not counted”.
“This is allowed in principle, if the Alternative Design analysis proves that two overlength main vertical zones without SRtP is at least as safe as three main vertical zones with SRtP,” he said.
“But how could this kind of analysis be justified? Responsible owners would follow the SRtP main principles even for smaller explorations ships.”
Foreship has been involved with more than ten Polar Code passenger ship projects to date, including two landmark contracts: A luxury cruise vessel for Crystal Cruises and a ‘Discovery Yacht’ for Scenic.
The Polar Code provides guidance to ensure that equipment operates at low temperatures, incorporates stability margins to deal with ice accretion on superstructures and in some cases, demands additional damage stability requirements.
However, covering issues as diverse as design, construction, equipment, training, and search and rescue has not created a rule-set shrouded in mystery, said Mr Aarnio.
“There are misconceptions: some confuse the Polar Code (the IMO regulation for ships accessing Polar Areas) and Polar Class (which is the ice class regulation governing mainly the steel structures of ice-going vessels), for example.”
Mr Aarnio also suggests that more consideration is given to the efficient use of space and energy on these smaller ships, and to meeting the new more stringent SOLAS2020 damage stability requirements in a clever way.
“These smaller expedition ships are not cargo vessels or boats; they must be designed to be fit for purpose, as passenger ships operating in remote areas. Smaller size does not mean that safety or energy efficiency should take a lower priority than is the case for bigger ships,” he said.
By Anne-Marie Causer
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