Fire Fighting Robots on Ships

Fire at sea is no joke.  It is the Captain’s worst fear. And I speak from experience having been in command of a 50 metre new build yacht that caught fire during her builders sea trails.

Having a fire on board is dangerous enough to worry any Captain but an even greater worry for him is, when and if he has to send members of his own crew into an enclosed space to fight it.

Aftermath following fire on board a superyacht

The mental anguish in that scenario is extreme and yes again I am speaking from experience

So it was music to my ears to learn of a new way of automatically fighting on board fires without endangering the lives of crew

Yara Birkeland – the world’s first fully autonomous containership – has been fitted with  an advanced fire fighting system by Survitec

Yara Birkeland – the world’s first fully autonomous containership – has been fitted with  an advanced fire fighting system by Survitec

This remotely operated system includes a Novenco XFlow water mist system for the vessel’s eight separate battery rooms; an Inergen extinguishing system for the switchboard rooms, pumps rooms, control rooms and electrical spaces; and an NFF XFlow Deluge system for the cargo holds, open decks, superstructure and other compartments.

The fire system employs crews monitoring the system from a virtual bridge and machinery control room ashore

Superyacht on fire

A wide range of standalone fire safety and life-saving equipment, including flares, radios, breathing apparatus, immersion suits and lifejackets, has also been supplied.

This new approach called for a redesign of the Novenco system for 60 minutes of operation rather than 30 minutes specified for conventional vessels.  Moreover, since the vessel’s cargo holds are designed according to IMO MSC Circ.608 requirements (which normally requires a manual fire fighting approach), the NFF XFlow Deluge nozzles had to be redesigned and sited for crewless operation.

Extra fire safety features built into the ship included additional segregated fire zones and system redundancy. Drain valves have also been integrated into the system to allow for automatic opening and closing to prevent free-surface flooding.

Fire on board a superyacht

The success of the system aboard Yara Birkeland has placed Survitec at the vanguard of fire safety technology for a new generation of autonomous vessels. A similar system is currently being designed for a pair of 67m fully autonomous ferries under construction at a yard in India.

The zero-emission, fully electric Yara Birkeland 3200 dwt ship is preparing to carry fertiliser cargo on the Herøya-Brevik route.