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Passenger Ship Technology

Expedition cruise boom – is safety at risk?

Mon 05 Mar 2018 by Rebecca Moore

Expedition cruise boom – is safety at risk?

Booming demand for expedition ships should not mean that safe and environmentally friendly shipbuilding practices for passenger vessels are compromised

The expedition cruise ship boom could mean that established safety and environmental values are at risk.

The expedition cruise market is booming – there are 25 expedition cruise ships on order (according to BRL Consultants), most of which have been contracted in 2017. This fact has been very well publicised in the cruise ship industry over the past year. But it throws up the question: is this sector fully meeting stringent safety and environmental directives?

Naval architecture and engineering company Foreship has recently warned of this issue.

The consultancy believes that a 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 Organisation,” said Foreship chairman Markus Aarnio. “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,” said Mr Aarnio. “But how could this kind of analysis be justified? Responsible owners would follow the SRTP main principles even for smaller exploration ships.”
The Foreship chairman added that some designs seem to include tanks or voids at the ship’s sides more typical of offshore supply ships. “On passenger ships this can create design issues later with escape and cross-flooding arrangements; having full width compartments with tanks closer to the centreline and thus avoiding asymmetry results in safer and more environmentally sound design.”

The focus is currently on the surge of new orders within the expedition cruise ship area, but Mr Aarnio’s warning shows that safety and environmental efficiency must be paid attention to.

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