For centuries, the main lifesaving device at sea has been a boat, originally used as a general-purpose craft for the ships use, but then gradually becoming reserved for lifesaving purposes.
As ships became larger, carrying more crew and passengers, these boats became larger, with specifically designed launching devices. This of course meant that more space was required, along with further maintenance and training for they’re launching and use.
In recent years we have seen the enclosed boat concept, which, while serving the purpose of protection of the occupants it severely limits the boats use to, abandonment and survivability of the occupants. Such boats are still essential on many types of ships, especially those carrying passengers. As well as becoming compulsory as supplement lifesaving devices, permission was given in many cases for these rafts to replace the traditional lifeboat resulting in cruise ships now only being required to have sufficient lifeboats for 75% of those on board and many ships not required to have any lifeboat.
The liferaft is an excellent device for saving and sustaining life in the right circumstances but it has severe limitations. Owing to the high freeboard, it is difficult to board especially when wearing a survival suit or if injured or elderly or infirm. They can blow away faster than the survivors can swim after them. They cannot be used for practice, being in the most cases containerised and one use only. They are heavy and take up deck space especially on small craft and the required annual maintenance is expensive, leading to many on private leisure craft falling out of date or left with no boat or raft at all.
Finally, as has been seen in too many circumstances, the rafts have not been able to be deployed in time and is a number of cases, did not open.
With such a situation, it was obvious that if the liferaft could not be boarded or there was no raft carried, for many that left only the lifejacket. Many of these are of poor design and worse, the do not protect the wearer from hypothermia which can incapacitate the wearer in minutes when in cold water conditions.
In the majority of rescues at sea, the waiting time is in hours not days, especially when survivors are in inland or coastal waters. In such cases, there is no requirement for the sustenance for days that the liferaft provides. In the second World War, a major lifesaver was the Carley liferaft, which while not protecting the survivors from the weather saved thousands of lives by simply removing them from the water and allowing them a place of rest while waiting for rescue.
Based on the Carley float, the Seapod was conceived. Now, with modern technology, an inflatable survival platform has been designed to provide a safe refuge for those waiting for rescue.
The pod folds up into a small parcel weighing only a few kilos yet when inflated can hold up to 4 persons. It consists of two auto inflated separate chambers. It is the same on both sides with hand and foot holds to enable those on it to retain their position. It is only centimetres thick and so with no freeboard retains its position without being affected by wind or waves.
To assist with this the soft container becomes a drogue while the handholds around the outside of the Pod provides handholds for more survivors. The low freeboard allows all whether injured or handicapped to crawl onto the surface and wait rescue.
It can be used together with life rafts as a boarding platform to assist their boarding.
The Pod initially comes in three sizes, 1.2 metres 1.8 metres and 3 metres diameter although larger sizes can be made to order. It has two different shapes, round or hexagonal and the Pods can be clipped together to make a much larger survivor surface enabling large groups of survivors to be kept together.
It’s unique lightweight and size enables all boats and ships to carry Seapod and stow it under seats and thwarts. . It is suitable for all aircraft or helicopters and is ideal for dropping in groups from the air to survivors from either marine craft or survivors from natural disasters such as floods.
Finally it requires minimal maintenance and after the air cylinders have been replaced, can be repackaged after use making it suitable for training or even leisure use.
The Seapod is truly revolutionary in concept and design and for the first time, provides a rescue and survival capability to all survivors in the water, regardless of the size or type of craft or platform, or the condition of the survivors.