Torqeedo’s Viking LifeCraft has been selected to protect KiwiRail’s two new 1,900-passenger, hybrid-electric Interislander ferries in 2025.
More than 800,000 people take the Interislander ferry route between New Zealand’s North and South Island every year. The new diesel hybrid-electric ferries will be fitted with lifesaving equipment for crossing the Cook Strait.
Torqeedo will supply the high-thrust electric propulsion system for the survival craft, which is designed to be ultra-compact, require minimal maintenance, and ensure the safe evacuation of hundreds of passengers from ships at sea.
Traditional lifeboats with combustion engines take up valuable space on board and will likely never be used over the entire lifetime of the vessel, but they must be ready to go at a moment’s notice. This requires frequent safety checks, drills and maintenance. The 203-passenger LifeCraft is a motorized inflatable vessel with a passenger chute system and advanced battery-electric propulsion, designed to deploy from a compact and lightweight shipboard storage/launch station.
Electric drives were specified because they are ultra-reliable and don’t require frequent access to fuel, oil and ignition systems for maintenance or for pre-departure safety checks. The crew can check the system’s readiness at the touch of a button, right from the bridge. Each LifeCraft’s propulsion package consists of four Cruise electric pod drives powered by Power 24-3500 lithium-ion batteries. One motor is installed at each corner of the boat for redundancy and maneuverability.
“With four LifeCraft in each system, we save space on board, deliver superior maneuverability, and can evacuate more than 800 people within 30 minutes,” said Niels Fraende, vice president of sales for cruise and LifeCraft at Viking. “The LifeCraft eliminates dangerous lifeboat drills and can also be used to perform search and rescue operations if another vessel in the area requires support, boosting passenger and crew safety in the Cook Strait as a whole.”
“Viking’s LifeCraft is truly innovative and so is its electric drive system, which must deliver the highest reliability. The Torqeedo team has enjoyed participating in the LifeCraft’s development, and we’re thrilled to see its first implementation in KiwiRail’s new ferries,” said Fabian Bez, CEO of Torqeedo. “Torqeedo’s electric drives enable all sorts of next-generation tech, from foiling speedboats to large sailing yachts and lifesaving equipment. Congratulations to all involved in this industry first.”
Read more of the latest ferries and cruises updates from the electric and hybrid marine technology, here.