FIRST APPEARED 15 April 2018: Homegrown Hobart-based Liferaft Systems Australia says a successful BAE Systems bid to build Australia’s next generation naval frigates will boost employment in Tasmania, while giving its company a milestone opportunity to celebrate the deployment of its cutting-edge technology to Royal Australian Navy vessels.
Having already this year delivered its Maritime Evacuation System to the first Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier and future Royal Naval Flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, Liferaft Systems Australia Managing Director Mike Grainger said the company was eager for the opportunity to extend its lifesaving expertise to the Royal Australian Navy.
Liferaft Systems Australia will also provide Maritime Evacuation System technology to the second QE Class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, as well as the Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigates and has supplied its products to the French, Dutch and New Zealand Navies.
From its base in Hobart, Liferaft Systems Australia has developed the safest, most compact and lightweight Marine Evacuation System in the world. It designed and produced the first 100-person life raft to receive international approval – subsequently expanding its range of products to include 50 and 128-person liferafts and a range of marine rescue solutions, including inclined evacuation slides.
The partnership with BAE Systems has been a significant part of Liferaft Systems Australia’s success, according to Mike Grainger.
“We have a long-standing relationship with BAE Systems, and have worked very closely with them to produce a world class product for their world class ships,” Mr Grainger said.
In September this year Liferaft Systems Australia celebrated its 25th anniversary and the company and its 70 full time staff are hoping for expansion opportunities should BAE Systems be awarded the SEA 5000 Future Frigate program.
Liferaft Systems Australia’s Maritime Evacuation System can safely evacuate up to 600 personnel, regardless of age, gender, size or physical capability in less than 30 minutes at each separate station.
“Assuming we are successful in becoming a supplier for the SEA 5000 frigates, we would need to expand even more and quite significantly,” Mr Grainger said.
“It would be our first supply contract to the Royal Australian Navy and a real feather in the company’s cap.”
Mr Grainger estimated that a successful Liferaft Systems Australia product supply award to the Royal Australian Navy would see the company increasing its workforce by up to 43 per cent with 25-30 new employees coming onboard at its Derwent Park design and manufacturing hub.
“Our employee turnover is very low and we are very proud that our Marine Evacuation System, the world’s first direct from ship to life raft technology, was developed right here in Hobart. This was an extraordinary feat for Australia,” Mr Grainger said.
In the event of an ‘abandon ship’ emergency, the Marine Evacuation System facilitates the speedy and safe transfer of a ship’s crew to the liferafts via directly connected inflatable slides.
Liferaft Systems Australia was initially contracted to supply inflatable liferafts to high-speed aluminium multihull ferries manufactured in Tasmania by Incat. From those humble beginnings the company graduated to the premier league of the Rosyth Naval Dockyard in Scotland last October, where the successful test deployments of its three 20m Maritime Evacuation Systems and two 100-person self-righting link liferafts to HMS Queen Elizabeth were witnessed by senior Royal Navy officers.