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Safe and swift: Emergency Response Service (ERS™) for superyachts and cruise ships

Superyacht owners and cruise ship operators always put safety as a top priority for their crew and passengers. DNV’s Emergency Response Service (ERS™) helps owners and captains of yachts and cruise ships improve their risk management strategies and ensure that they are fully prepared and supported during any emergency situation.

Owners can be more emotional when purchasing or chartering a yacht compared to decisions in their business lives; however, they do expect the industry to offer them top service in all areas, especially concerning the safety of family or guests. Cruise ship operators are equally demanding and put the safety of passengers as a top priority. DNV has been offering ERS™ to the shipping industry for over 30 years and has a vast amount of experience in managing vessel incidents. 

Handling incidents swiftly and discreetly

Erlend Moe, Head of Section, DNV ERS™ has witnessed first-hand how disasters have been averted, in both commercial and superyachting incidents, thanks to effective actions coordinated from his team. “Superyachts and cruise ships already have emergency procedures and employ dedicated personnel ashore, usually within technical management companies or departments, but DNV’s ERS™ team can add its broad expertise and experience to complement this setup,” he explains. 

Unwelcome media attention is something that yacht and shipowners prefer to avoid during an incident. “Owners want to handle incidents, such as a grounding, quickly and efficiently and get back to cruising as soon as possible,” Moe says. “DNV’s ERS™ team, on standby 24/7, is mobilized and communicates with the captain and manager, using data from prepared models and tools and drawing on our expertise, to improve the situation and reduce the risk. For a collision or grounding incident a technical manager is not always in a position to act as effectively as we can, with all the necessary data and expertise from our different experts at hand.” 

Collecting all necessary data to act promptly in case of an emergency

The service starts with the enrolment process, which involves preparing a stability and strength model for the hull and preparing simulations, all tailor-made, stored and ready for use in an incident such as collisions, groundings, flooding, engine failure, uncontrolled drifting, spillage or fire. Professional fees during any actual incident would usually be covered by the cruise ship or superyacht’s insurance provider and are based on time providing the emergency response service and advice. 

Ultimately the level of preparedness of a crew is raised by the advance modelling and crew training and, by having experts available, mitigation of risk is assured. Seven staff are on the ERS™ Duty Team at any one time and, upon receiving an emergency telephone call, a team of three is immediately mobilized, comprising a duty responsible officer who coordinates the team, a stability expert and a strength expert. A fourth expert is also to hand who has the competence and capacity to provide customers with drift predictions, monitoring for example meteorological data. 

ERS™ service can be enrolled to independently from class

Superyachts and cruise ships classed by any classification society can benefit from DNV ERS™. Presently some 15% of commercial ships using the service are not classed by DNV. The dedicated ERS™ incident response rooms at DNV are spacious and impressive. The team thrives while working under pressure and has the benefit of a calm environment to make carefully considered decisions and give sound advice. This is in contrast to the stress the crew are most likely under if they have had cause to make contact, either directly or through their DPA. A typical first critical phase time might be from 8 to 16 hours, for example to stabilize a grounded vessel so it is safe, even if remaining aground in preparation for refloating at the next high tide. Then the ERS™ team may be demobilized and go off duty to continue operations the next day. 

ERS™ service comes with more advanced tools and experience

Moe gives an overview of the benefits, explaining how, from the initial phone call, when the team is mobilized at the start of an incident, they know what information is required (the crew will already have the relevant forms to hand), know the important questions to ask to obtain the information required to perform the required calculations, assess the criticality of the situation on board and provide advice on handling and mitigation of the incident. “The technical manager benefits by outsourcing the handling of parts of the situation to us and being able to have peace of mind knowing we have more tools available, with capacity way beyond the onboard computers, to quantify the risk level in a situation and to advise on possible measures to improve it,” Moe explains. 

During one superyacht incident, DNV ERS™ supported Fraser – one of the largest superyacht firms. Their Safety and Crew Manager, DPA and CSO, Maxime Brégeon, summarized the support they received: “DNV ERS™ was very professional. They worked day and night over a period of a week to assist with the stability of a vessel and the best way forward to be able to move the boat. We had numerous meetings with the ERS™ team via phone, camera, etc. This support and expertise was really needed and appreciated.” 

Drills and exercises enable more targeted actions during incidents

Moe adds that “all vessels follow the laws of nature. If you have an accident at sea, it is very important to quantify the physics as soon as possible, understand the level of risk, how it may change and what can be done to reduce risks”. Carrying out drills and exercises is recommended so the crew can get a better understanding of what their vessel can withstand and of the capabilities provided by ERS™.  

To know that DNV’s team of naval architects, marine engineers, master mariners, ship surveyors and approval engineers – with extensive expertise and long experience in providing ERS™ – is available 24/7 to lend support is reassuring for DPAs, captains, crew and owners of cruise ships and superyachts alike.  

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Erlend Moe

Erlend Moe

Head of Section

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