A passenger ship evacuation seminar will be held on 30 November 2012, organised by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, it will present the work of the SAFEGUARD project, which has undertaken a series of full-scale ship passenger evacuation trials to gather data for calibration and validation of ship based evacuation simulation models.

·         Do we really know that cruise ships and ferries can safely evacuate passengers in an emergency?

·         How do "real" passengers actually react during a ship evacuation?

·         Can we be certain the current passenger evacuation simulation software is realistic?

The EU-funded SAFEGUARD research project bringing together nine international companies and research institutes based in the UK, France, Canada, Norway and Greece to perform a series of full-scale ship passenger evacuation trials to gather data for calibration and validation of ship based evacuation simulation models.

Data collected from real sea trails on three passenger ships and five semi-unannounced passenger evacuation assemblies will be used by the SAFEGUARD partners to create a large data base of passenger response times and assembly times of a sufficient depth and detail to permit simulation model calibration, verification and validation. It is also hoped that this data will serve as the basis for improved evacuation analysis protocols beyond the International Maritime Organisations (IMO) MSC circular 1238.

SOLAS regulations specifies the maximum time (currently set at 30 minutes) that it should take to prepare and launch the lifeboats and life rafts from a passenger ship, once the passengers are actually assembled,. However, there were no specific regulations on the complete timeframe for the total vessel evacuation process. The total passenger ship evacuation time will also include the time taken by the passengers and crew to actually assemble at the muster station from wherever they happened to be on the ship once the initial alarm has sounded. This has now been addressed by the IMO “Guidelines for a Simplified Evacuation Analysis for New and Existing Passenger Ships” covered by MSC Circ 1033 and its successor MSC Circ 1238. Since these are currently only an IMO guidelines it is the responsibility of individual member governments to decide whether to incorporate all or part of the guidelines into their own national legislation or to merely leave them as ‘guidelines.’

The seminar will be at the Royal Institution of Naval Architects Head Quarters at 10 Upper Belgrave Street, London, SW1X 8B.