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June 28, 2002

DNV withdraws lifejacket certification

A life jacket currently in use on a large number of Norwegian ships--ferries, high-speed vessels and other passenger ships--will have to be either upgraded or replaced. Britain and Denmark have already banned the use of the jacket on ships flying their flag. The jacket is the Regatta Thermo Cruise. As its name suggests, it has thermal protection properties and was developed as a result of research that followed the Estonia accident in 1994.

However, a review carried out by Det Norske Veritas has revealed that the life jacket's floating properties do not meet all the prevailing requirements. The classification society has therefore withdrawn the life jacket's certificate.

DNV carried out a new review of the lifejacket following demands made by the European Union at the request of the U.K. maritime authorities. Tests in the U.K. have already led to the use of the life jacket being banned on British and Danish flagged ships.

As part of DNV's review of its own work in certifying the Regatta Thermo Cruise life jacket, new tests have been conducted. These showed that the life jacket did not comply with requirements relating to the angle between the tester's head and the water surface while the tester was lying in a stable floating position and the distance from the tester's mouth to the water surface while the tester was lying in a stable floating position.

The tests were carried out by SINTEF (the Foundation forScientific and Industrial Research at the University of Trondheim) on June 14 and witnessed by the Norwegian Maritime Directorate and DNV. They did not indicate any non-compliance with the requirements relating to the life jacket's turning properties. The life jacket also complies with other requirements--such as those relating to the time it takes to put on the jacket; the jacket's properties when the wearer jumps into the water, swims and climbs onboard a raft; and the requirements relating to the body's floating position once the test person is lying in a stable floating position.

DNV Technical Director Tor Svensen said "our role as a technical supervisory body is to ensure, on an independent basis, that the products we certify comply with the prevailing requirements. Now that it has been revealed that Regatta's Thermo Cruise life jackets do not meet all the requirements, the certificate had to be withdrawn. Any upgraded product will have to be tested later on before any new certificate is issued."

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