Revolutionary evacuation system is half lifeboat, half liferaft, and 100% electric
More than 800,000 people take the famous and beautiful Interislander ferry route between New Zealand’s North and South Island every year. In future, with the arrival of two new diesel hybrid-electric ferries in 2025, they will be fitted with state-of-the-art lifesaving equipment as they cross the Cook Strait. In an industry first, the revolutionary VIKING LifeCraft™ was recently selected to protect KiwiRail’s new 1900-passenger, hybrid-electric interislander ferries. Torqeedo supplies the high-thrust electric propulsion system for the survival craft, which is designed to be ultra-compact, require minimal maintenance, and ensure the safe evacuation of hundreds of passengers from ships at sea.
Traditional lifeboats with combustion engines take up valuable space onboard and will likely never be used over the entire lifetime of the vessel, but they must be ready to go at a moment’s notice. This requires frequent safety checks, drills and maintenance. The 203-passenger LifeCraft is a motorized inflatable vessel with a passenger chute system and advanced battery-electric propulsion, designed to deploy from a compact and lightweight shipboard storage/launch station.
Electric drives were specified because they are ultra-reliable and don’t require frequent access to fuel, oil and ignition systems for maintenance or for pre-departure safety checks. The crew can check the system’s readiness at the touch of a button, right from the bridge. Each LifeCraft’s propulsion package consists of four Cruise electric pod drives powered by Power 24-3500 lithium-ion batteries. One motor is installed at each corner of the boat for redundancy and maneuverability.
“With four LifeCraft in each system, we save space onboard, deliver superior manoeuvrability, and can evacuate more than 800 people within 30 minutes,” said Niels Fraende, VIKING’s vice president of sales for Cruise & LifeCraft. “The LifeCraft eliminates dangerous lifeboat drills and can also be used to perform search and rescue operations if another vessel in the area requires support, boosting passenger and crew safety in the Cook Strait as a whole.”
“VIKING’s LifeCraft is truly innovative and so is its electric drive system, which must deliver the highest reliability. The Torqeedo team has enjoyed participating in the LifeCraft’s development, and we’re thrilled to see its first implementation in KiwiRail’s new ferries,” said Fabian Bez, CEO of Torqeedo GmbH. “Torqeedo’s electric drives enable all sorts of next-generation tech, from foiling speedboats to large sailing yachts and lifesaving equipment. Congratulations to all involved in this industry first.”
Torqeedo is the market leader for electric mobility on the water. Founded in 2005 in Starnberg, the company develops and manufactures electric and hybrid drives from 0.5 to 100 kW for commercial applications and recreational use. Torqeedo products are characterized by an uncompromising high-tech focus, maximum efficiency and complete system integration. Torqeedo is part of DEUTZ Group, one of the world's leading manufacturers of innovative drive systems. www.torqeedo.com
VIKING Life-Saving Equipment is a global market leader in maritime and offshore safety. Headquartered in Denmark, the corporation manufactures, supplies and services everything from chute and slide-based evacuation systems to liferafts, lifejackets, immersion suits, firefighting equipment, aviation safety gear, lifeboats, hooks, davits and more. In 2018, VIKING acquired Norsafe, the Norwegian boatbuilder whose lifeboats are used throughout the world, adding further strength to an unmatched product and service offering in the global maritime safety industry.
Founded in 1960, the privately held corporation manufactures in Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Greece, China and Thailand, and provides safety solutions in all significant markets and locations.