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New technology drastically speeds up man-overboard rescue time

A new rescue system has dramatically increased the chances of pulling anyone who has fallen overboard from a ship safely out of the water in under a minute.

At a three-day demonstration around Vattenfall’s Ramsgate offshore wind cluster, offshore search, and rescue specialists Zelim demonstrated how their Swift Rescue Conveyor system was around four times faster in safely recovering  man overboard situations in the harbourside demonstration and twenty times faster offshore.

The Swift system operates like a conveyor belt which is rapidly deployed into the water and pulls people to safety on board. The trials in Ramsgate showed it to be much faster, safer and easier to rescue one or more people compared with conventional rescue systems.

Demonstrations to recover a manikin carried out harbourside showed that Zelim’s Swift system was around four times faster than other conventional systems. When the trials moved two nautical miles offshore, in high winds and choppy seas, Swift performed even better being twenty times faster at recovering the manikin.

The Swift can be incorporated into the design of a new crew transfer vessel or retrofitted, providing an enhanced rescue capability, making it ideal for use in the offshore wind industry.

In the offshore wind industry, every sea voyage is associated with risk, especially when technicians switch from crew transfer vessels to offshore turbines under challenging weather conditions.

The demonstration was organised in collaboration with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, with whom Vattenfall cooperates for testing and demonstrating new technologies for the offshore renewable industry. Zelim Swift was operated by a single Zelim engineer while the conventional equipment was operated by a member of the CWind vessel crew who supplied the boat for the demonstration.

Sarah Bray, Emergency Response Officer, at Vattenfall said:

“Keeping people safe is Vattenfall’s top priority so I was delighted that we were able to contribute to the successful demonstration of Zelim’s Swift system for man overboard situations. It was great to see that it was both quicker and easier to use, vital if the worst happens offshore.

“I’m grateful for the collaboration with ORE Catapult and Zelim to demonstrate how the Swift system could be used in the offshore wind industry, and also to Cwind for so generously letting us use one of their vessels over the three-day trials.”

Sam Mayall, CEO of Zelim said:

 When bringing a new life saving product to market, proof of performance is everything. We are very grateful for the support from Vattenfall, CWind and ORE Catapult who gave us this opportunity to show the world just how well the Swift works. The conditions were rough, with most vessels electing to shelter in Ramsgate harbour, but it set the stage perfectly for an overboard recovery trial, because as we all know accidents tend to occur when the sun isn’t shining. We are very excited to see the first Swift production units roll out in the next month and start saving lives” 

Hamish MacDonald, Project Engineer at ORE Catapult, said:

“We are delighted that Zelim have successfully demonstrated their Swift system at an operational wind farm. This continues a long collaborative journey with ORE Catapult, which started with them being selected to join our Launch Academy programme back in 2019. These opportunities allow SMEs to prove innovative technologies in real-world conditions, and we’re grateful to Vattenfall for facilitating this trial within our collaboration agreement.

 “To achieve and maintain the considerable pipeline of offshore wind installation ahead, large quantities of vessels and personnel will need to attend wind farm sites. Many of the prospective future locations are in deeper waters, further from shore and in more hazardous conditions. Ensuring the wellbeing of everyone offshore is vital, and Zelim is playing an important role for health and safety in the offshore wind sector.”