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No fishhooks in this fire wire

1 May 2011

Last issue, we brought you the story of an innovative aerial camera system that depends on Technora cables designed and manufactured by Samson. Here, we highlight another of Samson’s ground-breaking Technora-based innovations, developed in cooperation with Teijin Aramid.

Almost every commercial ship in the world has an Emergency Tow-off Pendant (ETOP) or “fire wire”: a steel wire rope that, in case of fire onboard or at the terminal, enables rescuers to tow the ship to safety. They are fortunately rarely used for their intended purpose. However, they must still be hauled overboard each and every time a ship comes into port – a task that their weight and bulk makes particularly difficult and which can lead to strain and back injuries. Additionally, should one or two of the wire’s strength members break, the protruding ends can bend into vicious “fishhooks” that frequently injure deckhands. Recognizing the need for a rethink, Samson has developed the new Vulcan synthetic ETOP. It’s 100% Technora fiber with a proprietary fire-resistant coating, making it extremely heat-resistant and much safer and easier to handle than wire.

Almost no-one designs synthetic ropes for use at extreme temperatures, so Samson needed to define new testing standards for this application. Already closely involved in the development process, Teijin Aramid was able to give Samson even more support, including putting the rope through its paces at its own flame-testing lab in Japan.

The resulting ETOP can be exposed to short-term, direct flame contact with no effect on strength, and meets its required breaking strength even after longer heat exposure. Best of all, it is up to 70% lighter than steel wire, significantly reducing mooring-related injuries.