Scottish ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has become the first in the UK to fit the latest automatic escape slides from SurvitecZodiac.
Purchased on their behalf by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, the Autolaunch slides offer greater passenger safety by needing no crew input for their preparation and deployment and can be activated simply by pressing a button on the bridge or beside the slide itself.
The slide and a 151 passenger capacity liferaft are then launched, inflated and bowsed securely without any crew involvement. This has the additional safety benefit of leaving crew members free to deal with other aspects of the emergency if needed and it can greatly increase the passenger evacuation speed of a ship.
Bute is the first of two Caledonian MacBrayne ferries to be fitted with the system and will be followed by an identical installation aboard Argyle, sister ship to the 2,612gt Bute. A third vessel, Coruisk, will be fitted with a similar arrangement later.
Although the ships have a capacity for carrying up to 450 passengers, their loads are more typically around half that number who are able to travel in comfort on the scheduled ferry service across the Clyde between Rothesay and Wemyss Bay.
Each ship will be fitted with a 2.2m slide and a venturi-assisted inflation system for a 151-person capacity open reversible liferaft which is installed on each side of the vessel. A second liferaft of the same capacity will also be carried on each side and can be launched independently of the slide if required.