A new lifejacket-fitted Walk-to-Work crew transfer suit overcomes a cumbersome feature of offshore wind turbine maintenance procedures without compromising safety.
The new Viking YouSafe™ Walk to Work is a one-size immersion suit airtight packed into a bag that is attached to the user’s lifejacket instead of being worn during the transfer between support vessels and offshore installations. Sealed in a protective bag, the lightweight immersion suit has been developed in cooperation with leading offshore wind and Oil & Gas operators.
Today, crews landing on wind tower platforms from support vessels wear their one-hour immersion suits during transfer. Once on the platform, the immersion suits are simply set aside so that crews can attach their harnesses and get on with maintenance work. One issue is the time-consuming donning and doffing process; the other issue is that when not being used, the suits are exposed to the elements.
Discussions on whether crews need to wear immersion suits is still a hot topic in the industry. “Viking has decided to rise to the challenge to support crew transfer whether they continue to wear an immersion suit or carry it with them, because carrying an immersion suit brings its own challenges,” says Bettina kjærgaard, Global Product Manager, Offshore Wind, Viking Life-Saving Equipment. “Minimizing risk should also involve making the safest option the easiest one to choose.”
Transferring while holding a tool bag and an immersion suit bag could be awkward for a crew member or even involve two journeys, she points out, while the vessel’s watch would not be able to see through the bridge rails whether crews are compliant.
Tens of thousands of one-hour immersion suits are in circulation to serve the offshore industry in Europe alone. Kjærgaard says that the new SOLAS-approved suit has already secured its first orders.
The immersion suit is also substantially lighter, weighing just 1.37kg, compared to 4.6kg for a typical immersion suit used in this application, while still maintaining its protective qualities. “I am sure this will be as interesting to the Oil & Gas market as it has already proved among our wind energy customers”, says Kjærgaard.
By Jake Frith