Leading naval architecture and marine engineering firm Foreship has devised an initiative to limit the presence and spread of coronavirus and other pathogens on passenger ships and get the cruise sector back up and running. Entitled ‘Project Hygiea’, the four-step approach comprises interception, prevention, mitigation and evacuation.

Foreship Business Development Director Mattias Jörgensen says that there is no “silver-bullet” solution for fighting viruses in the cruise industry. “However, by combining our own expertise with the knowledge of medical professionals and that of our extensive partner network, we have formulated a strategy that tackles the crisis on four fronts.”

As Jörgensen explains, stage 1 of Hygiea aims to keep the biohazard off the ship. Ports will be designed for efficient interception, with technology installed for testing and measuring body temperature, for example. In the event that a vaccine becomes widely available, passengers will be screened for vaccination before being allowed to board the vessel.

Stage 2 is about preventing the virus from spreading, which means employing stringent hygiene measures and optimising spaces and routes to maintain a safe distance between individuals. Technology will be contactless and automated where possible to reduce transmission via surfaces. Crew will be trained in practices relating to sanitation and social distancing.

Stage 3 is a matter of isolating the pathogen through quarantining and decontamination to mitigate its impact. Technology such as air treatment systems and medical facilities will be provided to support these efforts.

Stage 4 focuses on preparation for the worst-case scenario: critical incidents on board. Evacuation procedures will be put in place, with routes through the ship designed for speedy extraction, while emergency suits, capsules and craft will be made available.

According to Jörgensen, the effective implementation of these steps relies on a ‘Hazard and Operability’ (HAZOP) analysis, in which Foreship collaborates with a ‘HAZOP group’ of vessel stakeholders to identify risk areas and develop solutions specific to their ship. A feasibility study determines how these solutions will manifest themselves on board and in port. The successful study is followed by engineering work, installation, commissioning and finally, verification.

With several companies looking to initiate Project Hygiea in the coming weeks, Jörgensen is optimistic about its potential impact: “Passenger ship owners are striving to restore public faith in cruise tourism. Foreship’s expertise in vessel design, refit, project management and lifecycle services puts us in a unique position to provide the bigger-picture solution they are looking for. Even at this early stage, we are seeing a lot of interest in Hygiea, which promises to have a significant positive impact on the immediate future of the industry.”