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New NAPA tool helps decision-making in flooding emergencies

NAPA Group
Critical information at a glance and a color-coded vulnerability meter
As the Costa Concordia disaster painfully showed, the decisions and actions immediately following an accident are critical to saving lives and the ship itself. NAPA Group, the Finland-based software supplier, has developed a new tool that integrates the data from flooding and flooding-level sensors, watertight door status and draft in a user-friendly format that supports better decision-making in the first two hours of a flooding emergency.

The NAPA Safety Solution is to be detailed by company president Juha Heikinheimo during Tuesday's 'Enhancement of Safety Measures at Sea' conference session at Cruise Shipping Miami.

'After Costa Concordia all responsible companies have taken very serious and positive steps much beyond what the regulatory authorities require,' Heikinheimo told Seatrade Insider, adding that such self-regulation is very commendable. He cited the development of systems, hardware and tools, and the intensification of training. The NAPA Safety Solution has been developed in close partnership with cruise and ferry lines and consists of a data-led package of monitoring, analytic and predictive solutions.

It provides tools for pro-active safety management during everyday operations as well as an advanced system to support fast and better decision-making after a flooding incident.

New ships since 2010 have flooding sensors and practically all new ships have flooding level sensors. They also have watertight door status and draft sensors. Until now, NAPA said, no system has effectively integrated this sensor data to give meaningful decision-support tools.

That is what the new emergency computer does.

In the event of an accident, the NAPA solution's vulnerability monitoring increases the shipmaster's awareness. Within the first 15 minutes or so, the master can know the extent of the damage, which is provided by the flooding sensors, and get a first prediction of the survivability of the ship, based on NAPA software and algorithms developed in the EU's FLOODSTAND project.

In the next 10 to 15 minutes after that, data helps the master assess whether the vessel can survive, based on the extent of damage and survivability. If it looks like the vessel won't survive, prediction data helps the master know how much time there is for evacuation, when more extensive flooding may occur and the limit for when lifeboats can be lowered. If the ship is able to survive the incident, the tool helps the master handle the situation, for example, proceeding to the nearest port or to nearby ships to evacuate.

In the case of Costa Concordia, it was 90 minutes before the evacuation began, Heikinheimo noted. That was too late.

'We have to understand if a ship is going to survive within the first 15 minutes,' he said. 'The captain has to be able to make some reliable estimate of the damage.'

The emergency computer requires minimal user interaction, gives critical information at a glance and provides dynamic flooding advisory information and progressive flooding prediction. All the data is presented in a simple, color-coded vulnerability meter.

Together with improved and reliable sensors and monitors, a commitment to good everyday safety practices and continuous training, the NAPA Safety Solution can help advance safety, Heikinheimo said. The emergency computer, he added, is a significant step forward.

The first three installations of the NAPA Safety Solution will be carried out this spring. The major brands have placed orders. In addition, lines are discussing having access to the emergency computer by the designated person ashore.

'NAPA Safety Solutions allows us to upgrade our on-board safety and security software, so that we can provide our guests and crew with the highest level of safety,' said Kevin Douglas, vp technical projects-newbuilding, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.