World’s first electric free-fall lifeboat lands with a splash

Free-fall lifeboats are launched from oil rigs or tanker ships and have to be able to withstand heavy forces on impact with the water

The world’s first electric free-fall lifeboat has landed with a splash.

Built by Verhoef and powered by Torqeedo, the first boat will be deployed on the AkerBP offshore oil and gas platform in Norway.

The vessel has now passed its final drop tests, which make sure its systems can withstand the heavy forces of free-fall launch from a rig platform.

It uses a 50kW inboard electric motor to provide the equivalent of 80 horsepower and is supplied by three 30.5kWh batteries to give it 30 minutes of operating time at full speed, followed by 10 additional hours at half speed.

The electric motor means the 32 passengers that can fit inside the lifeboat won’t have to deal with noise or fumes inside the cabin.

The firms say one of the main reasons to switch from diesel to electric power is to reduce high maintenance costs and eliminate the need to transport, store and handle fuel on the platform.

Verhoef estimates the electric boat will reduce operating costs by up to 95% compared to combustion-powered versions.

CEO Martin Verhoef said: “We are convinced that electric propulsion will be the wave of the future for lifeboat technology.

“While we are focusing initially on applications like oil platforms, which have shorter distances to travel to reach shore, we believe this technology will also ultimately transform the shipping and cruise industry as well.”

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