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Improving passenger safety and survivability in the extreme conditions associated with Arctic and Antarctic evacuation

A man and two women posing
From the left: PhD Student Hooshyar Azizpour, Project Manager Helle Oltedal and PhD Student Ria Bruenig in Haugesund

The two PhD students who will work on the ARCEVAC project are now in place. Ria Bruenig and Hooshyar Azizpour (also known as Henrik) had their first day at work August 15. We welcome them warmly and look forward to the next four years of research.

Hooshyar has a Bachelor in Marine Engineering-Ship and Master in Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety. Ria's educational background is in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering. She graduated with a B.Eng. from the University of Applied Sciences in Bremen, Germany, and specialised with a M.Sc. in Offshore Floating Systems from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK.

Before we start collecting data with Hurtigruten - the Norwegian Coastal Express, Ria and Hooshyar will perform a literature review to explore the field of passenger evacuation, starting with a historic review of passenger ship disasters and experimental work that has been undertaken to identify and quantify performance and behaviour of people in maritime evacuation situations. The regulatory environment - IMO regulations in particular - and operational procedures for evacuation will also be addressed in the review.

The results of the literature review will be presented in a mini-seminar in the near future. If you want to come to the seminar, stay tuned - information about time and location will be posted in due time.


ARCEVAC is a collaborative research project between Stord/Haugesund University College and Hurtigruten ("Express Route", also known as the Norwegian Coastal Express), a Norwegian cruise operator sailing in Polar waters. The objectives of the ARCEVAC project are to evaluate passenger ship evacuation to provide, better evacuation options, improved passenger survivability and enhanced resilience in the extreme environment of Polar waters.

The vastness, remoteness and extreme environmental conditions of Polar regions make an emergency response to maritime incidents very challenging. Nautical charts are known to be unreliable in Polar regions, which increase the likelihood of ship accidents, along with dangerous ice that cannot always be detected, especially in fog causing reduced visibility. Furthermore, passenger ship traffic in Polar regions is rising, increasing the risk of a significant incident requiring evacuation and rescue.

Improving passenger survivability and enhancing resilence in Polar waters requires improvements in vessel design, emergency equipment and operational procedures, all of which are reliant on a quantifiable understanding of human performance during evacuation. Furthermore, for an international regulatory regime to specify appropriate evacuation provisions in Polar conditions, it must be informed by an evidence base quantifying evacuation performance under these extreme conditions. ARCEVAC will address these needs by providing, for the first time, an evidence base quantifying human performance during evacuation and survival in Polar conditions. In particular, the ARCEVAC project will:

  • Based on an understanding of ship traffic in Polar waters, determine likely time lapse before assistance can be provided to a vessel in distress and the impact this has on survivability.
  • Develop an evidence base describing evacuation behaviour of passengers in polar conditions.
  • Determine appropriate alarm response time data for passengers and how this may be affected by the nature of the emergency equipment (cold weather gear).
  • Determine required assembly times for passengers and how this may be affected by the nature of the emergency equipment (cold weather gear).
  • Demonstrate impact of the new data sets on ship design.
  • Demonstrate impact of the new data on ship evacuation procedures.
  • Suggest improvements to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Polar Code.

The ARCEVAC project had its formal start-up in September 2016. The project research team involves Dr Helle Oltedal (project manager), Prof Ed Galea (research and technical manager) and two full-time PhD students (to be employed in near future). Below is a picture from the first planning session with Hurtigruten.

ARCEVAC-gruppa (From left to right): COO/SVP Tor Geir Engebretsen, operations consultant Haakon Waage, operation manager Guro Storhaug Christiansen, project leader Helle Oltedal, risk & audit manager Gunnar Pallesen, operation manager Erik Eng, VP HSEQ Roy Pedersen

Main researchers

Sida ble sist oppdatert: 16.08.2017