Lifeboat and davit manufacturer Schat-Harding is to launch a new generation freefall lifeboat for the offshore industry. The FF1200 boat and matching davit will have a capacity for up to 70 persons and will be suitable for drop heights from platforms and other offshore units up to 33 m above sea level in extreme conditions. The unique feature of the new design is that it meets all the new OLF (The Norwegian Oil Industry Association) design criteria for lifeboats in the Norwegian offshore sector, which leads the world in offshore safety standards.
Compared to all existing lifeboat designs the FF1200 has additional clearance inside the boat for safety and comfort with a more streamlined shape and powerful engine to give better headway in waves. Improved structural design will maximise canopy strength during the drop and splash in and a new seat design is based on heavier workers, with an average weight of 100 kg. Five point seatbelts will keep passengers from 1.4 m to 2.1 m tall safe and comfortable even with high drop heights into heavy waves. Once safely in the sea a high power diesel engine will deliver approximately three times the thrust of current freefall boat engines, and extensive model tests have resulted in a form which gives excellent performance in a seaway.
New research has shown that some passengers in high-drop freefall boats can be exposed to very high g-forces, especially when the boat is launched into heavy seas. Current lifeboat regulations do not take these into account, and that has led to rig shut downs in some sea conditions as lifeboat capacity had to be de-rated to suit the conditions. So Schat-Harding, working with the OLF, has introduced a new seat, seat belt and head protection arrangement which will ensure that all personnel in the lifeboat are protected from high g-forces when launched even into the troughs of large waves.