Safety at Sea

All the safety you need - straight from the manufacturer

Benny Carlsen
Benny Carlsen

14 March 2019

All the safety you need - straight from the manufacturer

What makes safety compliance such a challenge? As any maritime asset owner knows, it’s not one thing, but many different aspects. While it takes a steady hand to identify and select which combination of equipment will work best in an emergency, getting it right when it comes to efficiently predicting, managing and mitigating the associated hassles and operational risks is where things become seriously troublesome.

Take lifeboats and rescue boats for example. An absolute key part of a vessel’s overall safety setup and a major investment, too, this category of safety equipment is probably the one to require the most resources over its total service life - from procurement, through servicing to decommissioning. For instance, from the very outset, the choice of boat brand and model has direct and important implications for maintenance. The same goes for davits and launching appliances in general. Subject to much scrutiny in recent decades, primarily due to an unfavorable accident track record, lifeboat hooks differ widely, too, both in their simplicity of operation and the inherent safety built into their design. From a safety perspective, the pairing of state-of-the-art quality Norsafe boats and the innovative and intrinsically safe VIKING Nadiro Drop-In-BallTM hook solution offers an unrivalled combination.

Change in the wind

It’s factors like these that, toward the end of last year, prompted a move that rocked the maritime safety industry around the world: VIKING Life-Saving Equipment, the global Denmark-based safety equipment manufacturer and servicing provider, acquired Norway’s Norsafe, a renowned family-owned lifeboat solution manufacturer that has been around since 1903.

Viking Marine Services

To anyone who isn’t familiar with the supply and demand mechanisms in lifeboat procurement or maintenance, the acquisition may appear to be just one of many made in an industry that is increasingly consolidating. Seen from a marine evacuation point of view, however, it opens the door for both shipowners and offshore asset owners to streamline and simplify safety compliance like never before - not just for boats and davits, but across the entire safety equipment palette. This way, joining forces with Norsafe, VIKING now holds a unique position as a leading manufacturer and service provider for lifeboats, liferafts and all other major types of life saving equipment.

A global one-stop safety shop

In practical terms, this new reality means that VIKING now holds an OEM status when it comes to lifeboats, rescue boats, davits and many more related products. These join VIKING’s existing complete maritime safety offering with supply and servicing of everything from liferafts to PPE, evacuation systems, marine firefighting equipment and more, putting it all in the hands of a global, one-stop-shop supplier. Bringing Norsafe on board has also significantly expanded VIKING’s training capabilities, adding world-class training centers at key maritime hotspots around the world.

While VIKING has long offered lifeboats as well as service agreements to cover them, adding several hundreds of employees to this business area provides a significant lift to the company’s overall product palette. Here, the key advantage for maritime asset operators is found in the highly successful VIKING Shipowner Agreement concept, based on uniquely customizable contracts that cover all aspects of onboard safety compliance in a variety of predictable, fixed-price structures. These agreements have already been adopted in impressive numbers of shipping and offshore companies around the world, looking to achieve safety compliance efficiencies at scale by combining service of multiple safety product groups and brand with one capable supplier.

So popular are these agreements, in fact, that 98 percent of VIKING’s customers choose to renew their contract as it expires, and over 70% of these expand the scope of the agreement during the initial year to cover a wider range of safety equipment.

All services anywhere

Over the past decade, the maritime industry has become increasingly global in its perspective, moving to consolidate procurement centrally to achieve new efficiencies. To meet these needs, it’s important for safety equipment manufacturers and service providers to own an efficient, growing servicing network that’s never far away – with all the on-the-spot service capabilities needed.

VIKING’s own global service network is unique in the maritime safety industry. The vast majority of its 288 stations are company-owned and operated, providing a greater degree of control and coordination than those of its competitors. Even so, as many shipowners have discovered, it’s not the number of locations that define the quality or availability of service, it’s what each station is equipped and certified to do – and how far spares or specialist skills must travel to meet unforeseen requirements. What’s needed is a very real, one-point-of-contact centralized ability to ensure cost-efficiencies and speed of service, and VIKING achieves this by carefully positioning servicing capabilities and stock points around the world for best effect.

As for boats and davits, the combined VIKING and Norsafe lifeboat service network is based on

An industry unique 23 fully owned service stations strategically located to cover all major global maritime hubs, offering fixed price servicing directly in more than 100 key ports. Meanwhile, teams of technicians available for same day travel, ensure that similar services are in fact available anywhere in the world. In addition, the facilities and their highly trained technicians are all fully equipped and certified to service all major lifeboat and launching appliance brands in accordance with the latest SOLAS regulations.

Multi-brand lifeboat service with OEM competence

This brings us to another issue that can, at times, cause difficulties for shipowners or offshore asset owners is the long-standing IMO requirement that lifeboats must be serviced by their OEM or by approved representatives of these manufacturers. It’s not always a desirable situation, particularly where the decision has been made to consolidate servicing of safety equipment with one or a few suppliers or when you own multiple brands of boats. And it’s a situation that is about to change.

According to the stipulations of IMO MSC. 402(96), which come into force in January of 2020, OEM approvals will no longer be mandatory for lifeboat servicing. And that’s good timing for VIKING’s acquisition of Norsafe. With the newly combined VIKING Norsafe brand of boats, hooks and davits, the company can perform annual and five-yearly inspections in compliance with IMO SOLAS requirements under MSC.1/Circ.1206/ Rev.1 and MSC.1/Circ.1277 – all with the expertise and quality of an OEM. From basic service and maintenance, to testing, retrofit, overhaul and repair, the large combined team of VIKING and Norsafe of in-house trained

and certified service technicians have the experience, flexibility and competencies to cost-effectively deliver the right solution for any project.

Customer value powered by data driven digital solutions

In recent years, VIKING has forged ahead, too, in another crucial area aimed at making safety equipment servicing a more efficient and transparent customer experience: data driven digitized solutions. Today, the rather complex logistics involved in servicing safety equipment from multiple manufacturers and complying with a sea of regulations can be a heavy burden on e.g. superintendents and fleet managers whose primary job it is to ensure smooth sailing without any potentially risky or costly interruptions. Central to VIKING’s smooth, efficient servicing processes is a state-of-the-art digital booking system, operated by dedicated local planners, that handles everything from service notifications to follow-up. On top of that, is a state-of-the-art digital customer portal and automatic notification system based on proactive push-notifications, one-click booking and confirmation. Backed by real-time support, this system helps operators to easily manage and consolidate safety equipment information and service scheduling in the most convenient and efficient way.