Unique exercise with 12 people on a liferaft for 48 hours

Twelve people in a liferaft in the middle of the ocean. Exhausted without food and water and not knowing when or if they will be saved. How do they feel? A unique two-day exercise that is part of the research project SMACS will provide answers to the question.

This is the kind of liferaft that the 12 participants of next weeks exercise will stay on for up to 48 hours. Picture from a previous exercise. Photo: The Swedish Sea Rescue Society

They are forced to flee from a sinking boat, enter together in a liferaft with emergency supplies, and then just fridt of out on the ocean. Reality is not far off when the 48-hour exercise begins on Monday northwest of Gothenburg, the first of its kind in Sweden.

Together with Chalmers, Lighthouse and the EU project SMACS (Safer Arctic for Small Craft Mariners ) the Swedish Sea rescue Society put the twelve carefully selected test persons in the raft on Monday evening. The stream may take them, waiting is long. Its purpose is to study how an emergency at sea working and which elements of risk that exists. On board the liferaft is only the emergency supplies that liferafts under current regulations are equipped with ; 15 cups of water and 500 grams of biscuits per person.
- How do the participants days in liferaft physically, psychologically and cognitively? To sit trapped in a very confined space with strangers, hungry and probably seasick and not knowing when rescue comes, it is stressful for anyone. Even to defecate will be a challenge, says Matthew Fader  Project Manager at the Swedish Sea Rescue Society and one of the twelve on the raft .

Another participant is Lighthouse co-financed researcher Fredrik Forsman at the Human Factors group at the department of Shipping and Marine Technology:
- It will be a really exciting trial, which will hopefully give much great knowledge about this kind of situation, he says.

The whole chain is practiced , from launching a liferaft, put on survival suits and evacuating a ship to emergency procedures, rescue organization and the rescue operation .
- By practicing as if it were the real thing, we can design better and more effective methods for training and preparation. We also get useful knowledge about how it is to rescue distressed victims of prolonged physical and mental pressure, says Matthew Father.



Monday 5/26 , 16:00 : The exercise starts , the test participants are aboard the accident ship in northern archipelago of Gothenburg . The ship is wrecked about 18:00 , when the participants are evacuated to the liferaft .

Tuesday 27/ 5, 10:00 : Media is giving the opportunity to on-site monitoring raft, drifting freely at sea throughout Tuesday.

Wednesday 28/ 5, 0:00: The alarm is received by the sea and air rescue center JRCC around midnight, search begins. The raft is expected to be rescued sometime in the next 12 hours.

The exercise will be followed live from a nearby escort boat . At the Sea Rescue Society’s website, www.sjoraddning.se, you can get live reports of how the situation is on the liferaft.

More information about the research program SMACS can be found here.