Reconfiguring passenger ship internal environment for damage stability enhancement

Dracos Vassalos, Donald Paterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


The traditional risk control option adopted in naval architecture to meet safety-related objectives is by regulations, targeting damage limitation, nominally instigated in the wake of maritime accidents claiming heavy loss of life. These primarily concern the introduction of watertight bulkheads, i.e., permanent (passive) reconfiguration of the internal ship environment to enhance damage stability. This has been the most common measure, manifesting itself in the wake of every serious flooding accident since the beginning, back in the 19th century. However, traditional flooding protection through watertight subdivision, to an extent dictated by IMO regulations, has a physical limit which, if exceeded, a safety plateau is reached. This is currently the case and with damage stability standards progressively increasing, the safety gap between existing and new ships is dangerously widening and with design stability margins progressively eroding, stability management is unsustainable, leading to loss of earnings at best. The need for managing the residual risk through active intervention/protection over the life-cycle of the vessel drives industry to searching and adopting a new normal. This new normal is the innovation being explained in this paper by addressing safety enchantment through a systematic reconfiguration of the ship environment for passive and active protection in flooding accidents. In this respect, the "design-optimal" internal arrangement of a vessel, is adapted and reconfigured, using passive and active containment systems for flooding incidents, in the form of high-expansion foam products. The innovation is briefly explained, claiming transformational reduction in flooding risk in the most cost-effective way available. To support wider understanding and appreciation for the latter, the paper critically reviews the whole evolution of internal ship space reconfiguration, chronologically and systematically, concluding that new technological developments and breakthroughs will bring sustainable changes to the traditional evolutionary maritime safety enhancement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number693
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2020


  • damage stability protection
  • passive and active risk control options
  • legislation


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