Half liferaft, half lifeboat: Introducing the Viking LifeCraft

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This electrically-powered inflatable vessel bridges the gap between a drifting liferaft and a proper lifeboat

Is this the next step in ocean rescue technology? Liferaft manufacturer Viking is attempting to improve maritime safety and bridge the divide between a liferaft and a lifeboat with its new LifeCraft.

Designed for commercial ship use, the LifeCraft vessels are inflatable, just like liferafts, but are powered so can be driven to shore rather than just being left to drift at sea until a rescue boat arrives.

Holding more than 200 passengers each (who can board through escape chutes, which are suitable for children, the elderly, casualties and disabled people) the vessels can manoeuvre away from the casualty ship using four Torqeedo Cruise 4.0 electric pod drive motors powered by Power 24-3500 lithium-ion batteries in 48-volt banks.

The new devices completed heavy weather sea trials in October 2018 in wave heights between 3.6 and 4.6 m (11.8-15.1 ft) with peaks up to 10m (32.8 ft) – 50 per cent above the stipulated heavy-weather testing requirement.

Now if they could just shrink it down so it can fit on the back of a motoryacht…