(LONDON) — Survitec’s advanced firefighting system and safety equipment aboard Yara Birkeland – the world’s first fully autonomous containership – have successfully completed their first annual service ahead of the 3,200-dwt ship’s first laden voyage.
The zero-emission, fully electric Yara Birkeland is preparing to carry its first fertilizer cargo on the Heroya-Brevik route in early 2022.
The groundbreaking vessel, which deployed on its maiden manned voyage in November, operates a unique, automatic and remotely operated fire system designed and commissioned by Survitec.
Survitec’s scope of supply included a Novenco XFlow water mist system for the vessel’s eight separate battery rooms; an Inergen fire 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.
A wide range of stand-alone fire safety and life-saving equipment, including flares, radios, breathing apparatus, immersion suits and life jackets, also passed the November inspection.
“The fire system aboard Yara Birkeland is ready for safe operations, with crews monitoring the system from a virtual bridge and machinery control room ashore,” said Survitec Account Manager Andreas Dasvatn.
Going on to comment on the different approach required to extinguish a fire aboard a crewless ship, Dasvatn explained: “Typically, fire systems are built for manual operation, so we had to redesign the system for automatic activation based on the signals received from heat, flame and fire sensors located all around the vessel. The fire systems also had to send signals to seawater pumps, gas cylinders and valves, providing alerts to operators shoreside.”
Mark Clegg, managing director, Survitec Fire Solutions, added that the entire system had to be rethought to facilitate independent activation from a virtual bridge and machinery control room on shore.
“This new approach meant we had to redesign 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 firefighting approach), the NFF XFlow deluge nozzles had to be redesigned and sited for crewless operation,” he said.
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.
A similar firefighting system is currently being designed for a pair of 219-foot fully autonomous ferries under construction at a yard in India.