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Ocean Safety sees significant shift in liferaft supply from ownership to rental contracts

Leading provider of safety equipment and 3Si Group company Ocean Safety has seen a marked shift from liferaft sales to rental contracts.

Ocean Safety both sells and rents a large range of SOLAS approved liferafts to the commercial maritime sector and in the past 30 months the company’s hire fleet has risen from 60 to 400. These include ORL rafts ranging from 25-65 persons and Charter ISO rafts with grab bag upgrades to comply with Code of Practice regulations.

Alistair Hackett, General Manager at Ocean Safety comments “Commercial operators are naturally very vigilant with regards to costs and cash flow, and they are increasingly appreciating the benefits of fixed budgets and service scheduling.”

An Ocean Safety hire contract includes fast-turnaround and regular servicing and service date management, for large and small fleets. With branches in Southampton, Plymouth, Glasgow and Aberdeen, they have great national coverage.

“We are particularly noticing the way the wind farm support industry has embraced the liferaft hire market,” adds Hackett. “They are also hiring from our lifejacket range too.”

He observes “The cost to maritime operators of safety equipment has significantly increased in recent decades in line with tightened regulations and all these additional efficiencies can make a large difference to overall costs. Margins are getting tighter and the hire solution resolves both operating and capital costs.”

Ocean Safety rental canister liferaft on workboat

Further benefits to the hire versus buy debate include the fact that a busy vessel operator doesn’t need to wait in dock for the servicing turnaround. Hire contracts enable equipment suppliers like Ocean Safety to provide ‘like for like’ replacements immediately reducing down time to zero.

Hackett believes that the ship operator sector is growing ever more savvy to the cost saving. “Overall, Ocean Safety still sells significantly more liferafts than it hires out, but that gap is closing.”

The relationship between supplier and customer is important. “Lack of downtime is critical to a vessel operator,” says Hackett, “and we would ensure that if an operator has a refit period which is, for example, two months before a raft is due for service, we will take the opportunity to service the raft in advance without affecting the rental period.”

In the leisure sector many more owners carry liferafts now than they did ten or more years ago which has increased the number of liferafts in circulation. “Leisure end user awareness has increased too,” adds Hackett, “with yacht owners understanding the fact that they don’t need to worry about liferafts in the winter months if they hire a raft – they can simply return the raft at the beginning of the winter when the service is due, in the knowledge that a serviced raft will be available for them at the beginning of the following season.”

Ocean Safety is continuing to see North Sea operations increasing as the renewable energy sector grows. The company has won a number of hire contracts in this sector. In the leisure market too, yacht fleet operators are also taking advantage of hire contracts, most notably the Clipper Race and Volvo Ocean Race fleets, both of whom are currently undertaking round the world races.
Source: Ocean Safety

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