At the end of the year, companies and TV shows alike often use the season to compile top ten lists with a comical spin, review the events of the year, and hand out awards. As the year 2013 winded down, the Safety at Sea Awards shined a much-needed spotlight on maritime safety. This year, the organization awarded Norsafe’s GES50 MKIII lifeboat as the best maritime safety product. The competition was fierce for this coveted trophy; good news for the entire maritime industry as it means there are many new and improved devices aimed at keeping workers and crews safe.
The GES50 MKIII was designed as a fully enclosed free-fall craft. It will be used for emergency evacuations on ships, oil-rigs, and any other type of offshore platforms. Far from a small craft, this lifeboat is 50ft long and can carry up to 70 people. The vessel is made from fire-resistant Glass Fiber Reinforced Polyester (GRP). Before being put into operation, the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) signed off on the release hook configuration, lifting pad eyes, the buoyancy foam-filled compartments between the hull and hull line, and the deck liner. That is a seal of approval any manufacturer would be proud of obtaining.
Before being honored by the Safety at Sea Award, Norsafe put its craft through the paces in an extreme free-fall test. For this exam, the GES50 MKIII was transported two miles off the coast of Norway, during a very chilly December afternoon. The goal was to drop the lifeboat in stormy weather conditions to see how the craft would stand up in big waves. The seas complied and the lifeboat was delivered on the back of a huge trawler . The crew, including Norsafe engineers and technicians, who were also aboard the trawler, had to endure a two hour trip in very rough waters in order to reach the test site. Marine representatives from the Netherlands were also on hand to log the collected data. Just in case things went south, Norsafe had a Magnum 850 rescue boat stationed nearby; thankfully, it was never needed for this operation.
Once at the designated spot, the vessel was dropped from a height of 61.53m, even though it has only been certified for drops as high as 47m. On the test boat, was an advanced GPS and sophisticated acceleration sensors and over the course of the four-hour test, the GES50 MKIII performed an array of maneuvers in waves that were cresting at up to 10 meters. By all accounts, the boat performed extremely well. With those harsh conditions, the GES50 MKIII was still able to maintain a speed of about 8 knots at an 80% throttle.
The GES50 MKIII was designed to work from a skid launch, which meant that Norsafe needed to create a new davit for the boat. The SW50 is as safe and easy to operate as the vessel it holds. The GES50 MKIII is among the first in a series of lifeboats Norsafe designed to meet all the new maritime safety regulations pertaining to free-fall lifeboats. Currently, there are 100 boats in the works for delivery to companies all across the globe. Those fortunate companies will be on the receiving end of the safest lifeboat system available on the market today.