Deck equipment manufacturer Palfinger has set a new world record with its MPC 49, the largest lifeboat on earth. The 50-foot by 18-foot enclosed lifeboat has enough room for 440 people, about on par with a typical 747. The firm recently sold a set of 12, plus 24 tenders, 36 davits and six rescue boat stations, for a series of cruise ships that are under construction at STX France.
Like other lifeboats, the MPC 49 has to meet a loading time standard – in this case, DNV GL's maximum time limit of 10 minutes. Palfinger recruited 200 employees and 240 local volunteers to join in a loading test, and on April 21, this "boarding party" gathered in one of the manufacturer's assembly halls to see if they could all get into the boat on time.
Palfinger officials set up boarding lines and muster stations to mimic the arrangement on a cruise ship, and the "passengers" mustered in the designated location. Factory manager Arvid Skogseide started the clock and the crowd began to file on board. The test was successful: it set a new time record at five minutes and 21 seconds.
“Overall, the boarding tests proved a huge success for the project. The first test was performed within the time limit of 10 minutes, already at first attempt we set a record time," said global products director Arild Lokøy. “Before testing we were quite convinced that we would make it on time, but I must admit it’s a huge relief to actually have demonstrated it.”