Cruising to safety: Improving man overboard detection with new international guidelines

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Por Clare Naden
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Cruising never ceases to grow in popularity. Yet, what few like to consider is the small but real number of holidaymakers who fall overboard. New international guidelines from ISO aim to provide a boost to the technology that detects such incidents and helps them get back on board.

Over 27 million holidaymakers are expected to go on a cruising holiday this year1), as the industry booms with more ships, destinations and themes riding the wave. The safety of these ships is rarely put into question, yet an average of 21 “man overboard” incidents occur every year2), fuelling an industry that develops detection systems to raise the alarm and locate the victim as soon as possible. Up until now, there have been no internationally agreed requirements to evaluate the effectiveness of such systems.

The new publicly available specification ISO/PAS 21195, Ships and marine technology – Systems for the detection of persons while going overboard from ships (Man overboard detection), provides internationally agreed technical specifications for systems designed to detect a person who has gone overboard from a passenger ship. It covers how the system is expected to perform in a range of environmental conditions and incident profiles.

Robin Townsend, Chair of ISO/TC 8/SC 1, the ISO subcommittee that developed the standard, said this is the first document of its kind to standardize and clearly define technical specifications for such systems in the cruise ship industry.

“With everyone working from the same set of requirements, manufacturers can more easily evaluate safety, effectiveness and performance of the systems,” he explained. “This also provides a strong foundation on which new technologies can be developed.”

“Our intention is now to develop the document into a full International Standard. Therefore, we encourage feedback and input from relevant stakeholders, such as those in the cruise ship industry, systems developers or advocacy groups, to ensure it is as robust and effective as possible.”

Interested parties can contact their national ISO member for further details.

ISO/PAS 21195 was developed by technical committee ISO/TC 8, Ships and marine technology, subcommittee SC 1, Maritime safety, whose secretariat is held by ANSI, ISO’s member for the USA. It can be purchased from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.

1) 2018 Cruise Industry Outlook, Cruise Lines International Association

2) Report on Operational Incidents 2009 to 2016 for CLIA Global, G.P. Wild consulting

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