Generate new practical and theoretical expertise to improve the performance of lifeboats, whilst providing the safest possible environment for the crews.
- Project Dates: From October 2014 to March 2018
- Project Leader: Professor Richard Birmingham, Professor Bob Dow & Dr Simon Benson
- Sponsors: Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
- Partners: Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Lloyd's Register
The research addresses the approach to the structural design of search and rescue (SAR) craft. The main aim is to generate new practical and theoretical expertise to improve the performance of lifeboats, whilst providing the safest possible environment for the crews. By adopting a systematic approach, based on both computational and experimental methods, the project investigates the response of SAR craft to the loads experienced during operation. Results are analysed with respect to the vessel structure, the crew endurance and the equipment functionality. As well as generating new knowledge of hull loadings and vessel structural response, the project seeks to provide practical tools to guide the design, operation and maintenance of lifeboats.
Bridging the gap between Academia and Industry, the study is led by the School of Marine Science and Technology and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), with the support of Lloyd's Register. By contributing with new knowledge to de-risk and improve the efficiency of lifeboats, the study could potentially contribute to further improve the Rules for the Classification of Special Service Craft.
The need to quickly respond to emergency call-outs is the major driving force in seeking to improve the performance of search and rescue craft. Travelling safely, at high speed and in the most extreme conditions has a direct effect on the efficiency and reliability of the search and rescue service. Less transit time to reach the casualty, less fuel consumption with a consequent increased operational range are all factors that make the craft more effective in search and rescue and ultimately in the saving of lives. However, travelling at high speed and in rough seas subjects the craft to significant slamming impacts. The consequences of this are not only for the structure of the vessel, but also for the crew and for the on-board equipment. As a consequence, the performance of a search and rescue craft is not only determined by balancing the requirements of optimum weight, structural strength and available propulsive power. The crew endurance and safety and the equipment functionality also impose limitations to the maximum allowable speed for a given sea state. By applying both numerical and experimental methods, the research seeks to provide a set of guidelines embedding all these limiting criteria.
- Review the state-of-the-art knowledge of hull loads prediction methods for lifeboat and high-speed craft. Carry out a case study comparing the current RNLI status in terms of load prediction methods, together with the design parameters used, against the available methods developed for lifeboat and high-speed craft.
- Develop a numerical model, validated through model-scale and full-scale experiments, for the prediction of the loads experienced by all-weather search and rescue craft. Analyse results with respect to the implications for the structure of the vessel, the crew endurance and the equipment functionality.
- Produce tools for improving the design, operation and maintenance practice of search and rescue craft.