Marine and fire safety equipment supplier Viking Life-Saving Equipment has launched its latest innovation, the Viking LifeCraft system.

The LifeCraft system consists of two main elements: The LifeCraft itself – a self-propelled inflatable vessel (looking like a giant raft) with four engines for a high degree of maneuverability and safety, according to the company, and a storing and launching unit, either placed on deck or built in, containing up to four LifeCraft units with a capacity of 200 persons each, for a total capacity of 800 persons.

According to Viking Vice President Niels Fraende, this is a product that completely changes the lifeboat versus life raft discussion, at least when it comes to high-capacity evacuation systems. “Today's larger and wider vessels mean that the number of passengers and the variation in trim height and list conditions can be enormous in a distress situation,” he said. “The LifeCraft is a hugely flexible evacuation system that can cope with such extremes.”

The company claims more advantages of this hybrid solution. For example, it is safe on an entirely new level, too. A specially designed chute system helps evacuees with special needs, such as children, the elderly and those on stretchers, setting a new standard for full-spectrum marine evacuation.

The system also takes up less room than lifeboats, freeing deck space for shipowners keen to provide their passengers with more cabins, shopping opportunities and other journey enhancements.