New garment aims to improve sea survival

A former health and safety manager for the oil and gas industry has designed an innovative garment aimed at saving the lives of offshore workers in the event of an accident at sea.

Simon Lamont, from Dundee, came up with the idea for the Centurion 3, which is specially engineered to produce immediate heat when submerged in extreme cold water, after the 2009 fatal Super Puma crash in the North Sea.

With support from Business Gateway, Simon has now set up Iron Ocean and has secured over £100,000 in research and development funding with an aim to launch the product commercially next year.

Working with Heriot-Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design to create a prototype, Simon has also competed in various business events including Pitch at the Palace with HRH the Duke of York.

Simon said: “We are on target to have a fully offshore certified prototype ready for commercialisation by the start of 2018. Recently we gained significant funding and support after the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre (Ogic) carried out a full product validation which has been a massive help. We hope to bring in three new members of the team later this year and identify further potential investors.

“We have been completely blown away by the support we have received from Business Gateway in Dundee. Since I first sat down with our adviser Michelle and told her my idea she was my guide throughout the business plan development as well as assisting us with grant funding applications. I meet with her almost weekly to discuss the business which is shaping the development and successful outcome of Iron Ocean.”

Michelle Shepherd, Business Adviser, Business Gateway Dundee said: “We knew instantly that Simon’s idea had huge potential but we had to ensure he had a very clear plan of how to proceed, especially as external investment and funding would play a crucial part in his development. Since then we have worked very closely with Simon helping him identify funding opportunities as well as supporting him as a new business owner.”

The Centurion 3 is the first in a range of products Iron Ocean plan to develop for the oil and gas, maritime and clean energy industries.

It is designed to be worn under offshore survival suits and is also slash resistant. It improves heat retention as well as generating heat and resisting fire, and a coating means the wearer should remain warm for at least one hour.

Simon added: “The helicopter crash in 2009 left so many of us stunned and when I discovered that the garments worn were insufficient when dealing with cold shock I set to work designing and developing a product to remedy this.

“In my previous job I managed safety protocols and lead incident and accident investigations and worked with some fantastic people but I’m really enjoying being in full creative control of everything we do at Iron Ocean. More importantly however, our design can save lives and there is nothing I value more than that.”