When oceangoing ships become disabled at sea, the process of establishing an emergency towing connection using conventional methods can be extremely dangerous, especially in heavy weather, low light, or low visibility conditions. Moreover, conventional emergency towing systems utilize a design wherein nearly the entire line load is transmitted to a single bitt or other deck fitting on the ship. Consequently, emergency towing connections often fail – particularly in heavy weather. The Alaska Maritime Prevention & Response Network (the Network) recognized it was time to make a change.
A Risky Situation
A disabled oceangoing ship can pose serious problems. In a nearshore environment, a drifting ship brings increased risk of grounding and environmental destruction. Attaching towlines in such circumstances is a demanding exercise in seamanship – often performed in conditions that put both vessels and human lives at risk. Once a towing connection is established, deck fittings on the ship can be subjected to stresses they were not designed to take. This can lead to failures that further endanger vessels and crews.
Designed with Safety in Mind
In response to a request from the Network, Glosten, with support from Samson Rope Technologies, has developed a unique Emergency Vessel Attachment & Towing System (EVATS™) designed to overcome some of the most dangerous aspects of emergency towing. It allows for faster deployments, safer retrieval of the towing hawser, and a more secure connection to the disabled vessel.
EVATS™ is intended to be deployed from a disabled ship into the water, where the towing end is then recovered from the surface. Alternatively, it can be deployed from a towing vessel to a disabled ship using conventional methods.
An Improved System at the Ready
EVATS™ is designed to: make the process of connecting to disabled vessels safer and more efficient; make the towing connection itself more robust; and, to be portable and universally-compatible with ships’ mooring gear arrangements. The system achieves these objectives by connecting to multiple attachment points on a ship’s bow, distributing line loads, and by using positively buoyant materials that can be deployed and recovered from the surface. A pilot anchor installed on the retrieving line allows the end of the hawser to be recovered at a safer distance from the disabled ship, relative to conventional methods.
EVATS™ is packaged in a compact high-strength tote bin, such that it can be included in the cache of onboard safety equipment on any vessel. The two standard EVATS™ designs (300 MT and 411 MT) exceed the strength requirements established by SOLAS for emergency towing systems.
EVATS™ is a trademark of The Alaska Maritime Prevention & Response Network. EVATS™ is the subject of the following pending patent applications: US Patent Application Nos. 15/611,384 and 15/611,195 and International Patent Application Nos. PCT/US2017/037732 and PCT/US2017/037673
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