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Design, Operation and Regulation for Safety

SAFEDOR will be the first project to develop a risk-based maritime regulatory framework and tools to achieve cost-effective safety by treating it as an objective and not as a constraint. Novel ship designs, which cannot be approved at the moment but are expected to be as safe as current ships, can then be approved.

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Sustainable development, related to conservation of the environment, the welfare and safety of people, has been the subject of increasing concern to society during the last decades. Allocations of available natural and financial resources are becoming progressively more focused. Therefore methods of risk and reliability analysis in engineering disciplines are gaining more importance as decision-support tools for railways, safety related electronic systems and aircraft, for example. Integration of risk and reliability analysis methods into the design process for ships leads to ‘risk-based ship design’, the subject of the integrated project SAFEDOR.

Innovation in the transportation industry has to a significant extent been driven by safety. As an example, cars with integrated crash energy dissipating elements and airbags for impact protection provide safety in accidents. On the other hand, ship safety has mainly been driven by individual events. Each major catastrophic accident has led to a new safety regulation imposed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the classification societies. This has been the case since the Titanic accident that initiated the development of SOLAS convention. SAFEDOR will now introduce a risk-based design methodology and regulatory framework that combines risk analysis with innovation thus offering to achieve cost-effective safety.


Risk-based ship design and approval satisfy the European maritime industries’ need to deliver ever more innovative transport solutions to their customers. Risk-based ship design and approval also satisfy European society’s need to have increasingly safer transport. Increasing the safety of maritime transport cost-effectively is achieved by treating safety as design objective and not as a constraint, as in current ship design. Increasing the competitiveness of European industry is achieved by systematic innovation in design and operations, encouraged by modernising the maritime regulatory system towards a risk-based framework. Detailed objectives to meet the outlined global targets are as follows:

  • develop a risk-based and internationally accepted regulatory framework to facilitate first principle approaches to safety
  • develop design methods and tools to assess accidental and catastrophic scenarios, accounting for the human element, and integrate these into a design environment
  • produce prototype designs for European safety-critical vessels and ship systems to validate the new methodology and document its practicability
  • improve training at universities and aptitudes of maritime industry staff to attain a greater acceptance of risk-based approaches
  • systematically transfer knowledge to the wider maritime community and add a stimulus to the development of a safety culture.

Description of work

SAFEDOR will be the first project attempting to develop a risk-based regulatory framework for the maritime industry and corresponding design tools to facilitate first principle approaches to safety. Though risk-based design methods have been developed before, the complexity of a comprehensive system has never been addressed before. The following issues are addressed:

  • Proposal for a risk-based regulatory framework, for submission to the IMO, including risk acceptance criteria for ships, ship systems and requirements for documentation and qualification
  • Four high-level formal safety assessment studies to document the current risk level for cruise ships, ferries, gas tankers and container ships
  • Methodology for risk-based ship design including knowledge bases of risk-reducing measures, risk-cost models for decision-making and a prototype design platform
  • Advanced methods and tools needed for risk-based ship design to predict probabilities of flooding, structural failure, intact capsize, collision, grounding, fire, and system failures
  • A set of eight innovative ship design studies, applying the new approach, the best two of which will be refined and preliminarily approved later
  • Innovative ship energy distribution system, bridge system and a range of life-saving systems
  • Training course for professionals and four public conferences.


SAFEDOR will have a large impact on the maritime safety regulations of the future. The current debate at the IMO on goal-based standards adopted a safety-level approach and embraced risk-based methods. With the risk-based regulatory framework in place, innovative ship designs, which are expected to be as safe as or safer than current ships, can be approved which today, for some formal reason in the current rules, cannot be approved.

SAFEDOR will enable the participating organisations to be among the first adopters of a new approach to ship and ship system design which embraces safety as a design objective. Advanced methods and tools will be developed to predict the safety performance of the vessel and their integration into a design environment, suitable to explore risk-reducing measures systematically and to assess their cost-effectiveness, are essential elements for the future maritime solution provider.

Eight innovative ship designs will demonstrate the practicability of the new risk-based approach. Two of these will be selected, refined and preliminarily approved in the second half of the project, resulting in ship designs that can be realised. Two novel ship systems and a range of life saving appliances will be also developed. Depending on market conditions at the end of SAFEDOR, some of the developed designs will be implemented.