With regards to the letter in the August 2015 issue of Sea Breezes concerning recent fires on ro-ro vessels Sorrento and Norman Atlantic.
Whilst no doubt ‘new builds’ are equipped with all appropriate fire and safety systems as called for in the Solas regulations, there appears to be an ongoing problem with adequate protection around the parking of vehicles with ‘hazardous’ loads. Given the inherent high risk of the vehicle contents, the most appropriate location for stowage is clearly outside the main vessel structure, the logical location being at the rear of the ship away from superstructure.However, on some ro-ro designs, the lifeboats are located immediately forward of that open vehicle deck albeit at a higher level and thus, dependent on the manoeuvrability of the ship, this effectively increases the risk of the embarkation area becoming inaccessible being blocked by smoke, fumes or flames.
Over the last 14 years, Marine-Shield Ltd have supplied a Lloyds Register approved ‘escape route nozzle’ to protect lifeboat areas from this risk on over 100 VLCC’s and LNGC’s for BP, British Gas, Maersk and others. The ‘dual discharge’ nozzles produce droplets of water to reduce temperatures and absorb heat whilst the secondary discharge forms an external cup to keep the spray in position in levels of wind with the fixed ‘water screen’ formed greatly reducing risk whilst enabling safe disembarkation. The same nozzles would be equally appropriate screening immediately forward of any hazardous vehicle area on ro-ros with a simple protective water screen across the vessel and whilst primarily protecting the lifeboat area would also assist the crew in fighting any fire with whatever equipment is called for in the Solas regulations.
In addition to the recent casualties, such a situation occurred on the UND Adriatik which was completely gutted whilst off Croatia in 2008 resulting in four crew being hospitalised with severe burns. Sadly the legislation to promote this element of safety is not mandatory and thus becomes a ‘product of choice’ for ship-owners, who, perhaps already under pressure to comply with numerous regulations, may not be prepared to invest in further protective systems to safeguard crew and passengers and our previous approaches to promote the system to some UK and European ro-ro owners and operators has sadly not been taken up.