Marine Technology, Vol. 36, No. 4, Winter 1999, pp. 183--193


A Practical Formal Safety Assessment System for the Marine Design Environment

C. F. Cain,1 R. W. Birmingham,1 P. Sen,1 and R. M. Cripps2

In marine design safety, decisions are based largely on the experience of the designers, expressed in a semi-formal way. Dangers are inherent in this approach, in that there is a possibility of overlooking catastrophic failure scenarios. This paper investigates a procedure dedicated to design for safety and describes its practical application to the marine design process. The developed formal safety assessment system comprises various well established safety assessment methods and statistical techniques, which in combination facilitate a novel, holistic and practical approach in incorporating safety aspects at the initial design stages. The system has been developed in the context of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) rescue vessel design process and was validated using various rescue vessel case studies. The formal safety assessment system and the supporting software written to facilitate its implementation are now being fully used in the development of current RNLI rescue vessel designs.

1 Department of Marine Technology, Newcastle University, England.

2 Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Poole, England.


Manuscript received at SNAME headquarters February 1999.