In another positive step toward a return to sailing, marine engineering firm Foreship says it has devised an initiative to limit the presence and spread of coronavirus and other pathogens on passenger ships and to get the cruise sector back up and running.
As we have explained already in several previous articles, as long as there is no vaccine to stop the coronavirus in its tracks, the cruise industry will have to take a variety of measures to minimize risks, especially for larger cruise ships, which carry thousands of passengers and typically stop off at ports during journeys, requiring complex logistics and creating a bottleneck of passengers, making it difficult to implement social distancing.
‘Project Hygiea’, takes a four-step conceptual, strategic approach to tackling the problem: interception, prevention, mitigation and evacuation.
‘Project Hygiea’ – 4 Steps
Mattias Jörgensen, Foreship’s business development director, says there is no “silver-bullet” solution for fighting viruses in the cruise industry. “However, by combining our own expertise with the knowledge of medical professionals and that of our extensive partner network, we have formulated a strategy that tackles the crisis on four fronts.”
Stage 1 of Project Hygiea as Jörgensen explains it aims to keep biological hazards off ships. Ports will be designed for efficient interception, with technology installed for testing and measuring body temperature, for example.
In the event that a vaccine becomes widely available, passengers will be screened for vaccination before being allowed to board the vessel.
Stage 2 is about preventing the virus from spreading, which means employing stringent hygiene measures and optimizing spaces and routes to maintain a safe distance between individuals.
Technology, he says, will be contactless and automated where possible to reduce transmission via surfaces. Crew will be trained in practices relating to sanitation and social distancing.
Stage 3 is a matter of isolating the pathogen through quarantining and decontamination to mitigate its impact. Technology such as air treatment systems and medical facilities will be provided to support these efforts.
Stage 4 focuses on preparation for the worst-case scenario: critical incidents on board. Evacuation procedures will be put in place, with routes through the ship designed for speedy extraction, while emergency suits, capsules and craft will be made available.
‘Hazard and Operability’ (HAZOP)
According to Jörgensen, the effective implementation of these steps relies on a ‘Hazard and Operability’ (HAZOP) analysis, in which Foreship collaborates with a ‘HAZOP group’ of vessel stakeholders to identify risk areas and develop solutions specific to their ship.
A feasibility study determines how these solutions will manifest themselves on board and in port. The successful study is followed by engineering work, installation, commissioning and finally, verification.
With several companies looking to initiate Project Hygiea in the coming weeks, Jörgensen is optimistic about its potential impact. “Passenger ship owners are striving to restore public faith in cruise tourism,” he says. “Foreship’s expertise in vessel design, refit, project management, and lifecycle services puts us in a unique position to provide the bigger-picture solution they are looking for. Even at this early stage, we are seeing a lot of interest in Hygiea, which promises to have a significant positive impact on the immediate future of the industry.”
Foreship’s analysis gives an insight into just how complicated the logistical challenge faced by large cruise ships is, and why smaller ships have a major advantage.