1994, the roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) ferry Estonia capsized with the loss
of more than 850 lives. As recently as December 1999, the 25-year-old,
single-hulled oil tanker, Erika, broke in two just 40 miles off the Brittany
coast, releasing more than 10,000 tonnes of heavy oil into the sea and
polluting 400 km of coastline. These disasters demonstrate the need for
continued effort to improve safety at sea to protect human life and the
been achieved over recent years - the number of major oil spills, for
example, has dropped from more than 80 a year in the 1970s to less than
40 a year in the 1990s. The amount of oil entering the sea from ships
has been cut by about 60% during the same period. Similarly, a great deal
has been done to make ro-ro ferries much safer. But, there is still much
European Commission has responded by legislating and by funding
research. In March 2000, in response to the Erika incident, it set
to protect European waters and coastlines from a similar disaster,
including a proposed ban on single-hull tankers in European waters.
This would be phased in over the next 15 years - using a staggered
schedule similar to that laid out in the Oil
Pollution Act adopted by the USA in 1990. Other proposals are
to tighten controls on older ships, make inspections tougher, and
demand more from classification societies.
measures require enforcers to be equipped with state-of-the-art
tools to ensure compliance and here research and development can
play an important role. For example, a remotely-operated tanker
inspection system is being developed in the on-going BRITE-EURAM
project. This will consist of a free floating semi-autonomous vehicle
capable of navigating inside the main and ballast tanks of tankers
to perform close-up inspections.
of the project will lead to better quality inspection, improve safety
for the inspectors by avoiding the need to enter a hazardous environment
and save the tanker owners the cost of emptying tanks before an
inspection. The project, which was proposed by the Italian company,
Tecnomare, has a three-year time scale and is scheduled to be completed
in March 2001.
system, which was developed by a consortium of European companies
through the EUREKA
programme, offers users a number of benefits. Most important is
the fact that it encourages the crew to operate the vessel more
cautiously, particularly on large vessels where it is impossible
physically to feel the hull strain. Consequently, it can reduce
the need for hull repairs - saving both money and reducing the risk
of damage to the cargo.
data from the system is also proving useful for ship designers,
shipyards, shipping companies and ship classification societies
as it can be used to estimate the fatigue life of existing vessels,
and to provide valuable data.
recent years, however, there has been a move away from prescriptive
legislation towards goal-setting standards. Here marine operators
are required to demonstrate the safety of their operations through
studies such as a Formal
Safety Assessment (FSA). The aim has been to force organisations
to be more proactive in assessing risks rather than waiting for
an accident to happen and then legislating to prevent a reoccurrence.
safety assessment of high speed craft (HSC) - propulsion and manoeuvring
system reliability project was initiated under the EU BRITE-EURAM
programme. It set out to develop a rational, comprehensive approach
to safety for the relatively new concept of high speed craft, and
to provide potential users with a methodology that would support
the preparation of a complete FSA.
by the French classification society, Bureau
Veritas, and with five other European partners, the project
began by theoretically subdividing a ship into its main systems,
sub-systems and equipment, and then identifying functional relationships
between the component parts. From that point, it was then possible
to identify hazards and make a risk assessment. From the risk assessment,
risk control options can be identified, and then compared in terms
of both technical performance and cost-effectiveness. The results
of this cost/benefit analysis forms the basis on which decisions
are made as to whether vessel owners have done all that is reasonably
practical to ensure safety.
final report from the project, which ended in May 1999, has not
yet been made available to the industry but will include guidelines
for implementing the FSA methodology developed during the course
of this project.
with extreme loads
another BRITE EURAM project, SEAWORTH,
researchers are using both numerical and experimental techniques
to determine the effect of extreme hydrodynamic loads on ships -
for example localised wave slamming - with a view to improving ship
design. At present, wave loading is not included in the design requirements
of classification societies.
reference ships are being used for the project:
a cargo ship,
two monohulls of different lengths, and
database of the results will be compiled and integrated within an
expert system structure that will enable the analysis to be applied
to other designs. Once the analytical work is finished, it is intended
to derive a prediction methodology for extreme loads which will
then be used to issue guidelines in association with the German
classification organisation Germanisher
Lloyd, one of the project's partners. If all goes to plan,
the guidelines will be available in the summer of 2001.
is affiliated to the SAFER
EURORO thematic network, which is co-ordinating a new programme
of European research aimed at improving the design of ro-ro ferries
by developing an integrated approach. This approach establishes
the design aims and practices for individual aspects of ship safety
such as seaworthiness, structural safety, ship survivability, passenger
survivability and fire safety. It then uses the common ground of
technological tools and risk assessment to produce an overall design
methodology that should lead to safer ferries.
another project affiliated to SAFER EURORO, 12 European partners
are working to develop design tools and methodologies to improve
significantly the resistance against capsize of new ro-ro vessels
by integrating safety in the design process.
three-year NEREUS (first principles design for damage resistance
against capsize) project began in January 2000 and by March 2000
the partners had already made significant progress in four areas:
1. development of numerical tools,
2. development of design methodologies,
3. verification through design, and
4. an experimental programme to support the theoretical work.
partners are confident that the outcome of NEREUS will be valuable
for practising naval architects as it will enable them to integrate
survivability into first principles design and therefore provide
better protection for the lives of passengers and crew.