Metocean conditions in the Atlantic Frontier, West of Shetland are more severe than most other areas of the UKCS where the majority of offshore activity takes place. It was identified by an Oil Major client that an improved method of recovering personnel from TEMPSC in Atlantic Frontier conditions would lower the risk to personnel who may have to evacuate and be transferred to a place of safety following a major emergency offshore.
Many potential issues have been identified in industry studies and have also been experienced during real events. Incidents include the Ocean Ranger sinking in 1982 where one lifeboat was successfully launched with 36 crew onboard. Rescue attempts by standby vessels were hampered by adverse weather conditions and the lifeboat capsized during a recovery attempt with a loss of all 36 lives.
Seacroft was commissioned to undertake a study to assess recovery methods from TEMPSC to identify an improved and more efficient method of personnel rescue from lifeboats. The assessment was to include conventional methods of recovering personnel from TEMPSC and any other suitable systems.
As part of the study, Seacroft identified the ‘stern ramp recovery method’ which enables the complete TEMPSC to be safely recovered to a suitably equipped vessel. Seacroft attended vessels fitted with stern ramp recovery equipment and assessed the equipment, procedures and functionality.
The advantages of stern ramp systems are the ability to effectively and safely transfer personnel from TEMPSC to a place of safety in higher sea states such as those found in the Atlantic Frontier. The most significant advantage of stern ramp recovery systems is a method of transfer that is completely ‘dry’. System designs are compatible with other secondary functions such as towing and cargo operations that the vessel may also be required to undertake.