Reflex Marine, a recognised expert in marine personnel transfer, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its groundbreaking FROG crew transfer device, which has revolutionised marine personnel transfer in the energy industry.

More than 450 FROGs are now used in the world’s major oil producing regions, including Europe, the Middle East, West Africa, the former Soviet Union and the Gulf of Mexico. The device, which has set the industry standard in marine transfer, accounts for around one million crew transfers each year and the number is ever-increasing.

The recent grounding of helicopter flights in the North Sea because of the volcanic ash cloud led to a significant rise in demand for FROGs, heightening the awareness of marine-based crane transfer as a viable alternative transfer solution. That incident, and a general increase in awareness among operators of the various options and advances in personnel transfer, has created an increase in the acceptance of crane transfers as both a first line and contingency option for moving personnel offshore.

The FROG is also gaining acceptance in the offshore wind energy sector as operators consider the options for servicing planned wind farms.

The initial three-person FROG was developed by Reflex Marine after a review of incidents, involving traditional rope baskets for personnel transfer identified falling, collisions, hard landings and immersion as the main risks encountered. To counter this, the FROG offers significantly greater protection with its four-point harnesses, protective shell, shock-absorbing landing feet and self-righting capability.

FROG–3 was joined by a six-man version in 2007 and the nine-man model a year later. At each stage in the FROG’s development, Reflex Marine has responded to customer feedback and industry demand for a higher capacity device providing ultimate safety and protection.

The FROG-9 was introduced as a result of a partnership with SEACOR Marine on their CrewZer class project in the US. SEACOR’s Cheetah CrewZer, a 165ft vessel capable of carrying 150 passengers at speeds of up to 42kt, offers a fast, safe and reliable mode of personnel transportation to and from installations. The company wanted to find the safest method of moving passengers on and off offshore platforms without injury or incident.

Following an extensive review of a wide range of possibilities, SEACOR Marine selected Reflex Marine as its transfer partner due to innovative thinking, comprehensive support, solution-based systems and the proven track record of the FROG.

Robert Clemons, vice president and general manager of SEACOR Marine’s Americas division, said: “SEACOR Cheetah is an exciting, innovative design for us, and the FROG is one of the most important elements in our crew transfer system.”

Reflex Marine managing director and inventor of the FROG, Philip Strong, said: “It is easy to forget just how much the perceptions and reality of marine transfers have changes over the past decade. We have seen major changes in all the key areas, from the design of the transfer device itself, to vessel specifications and increased focus on crane operations, training and overall integrity management.

“Risk assessments confirm that marine transfers offer a very low risk alternative to helicopter based transfer, which is good news for crews and the industry. A lot of people and organisations have contributed to this change and we feel proud of the role we have played this process.”

Throughout the world in the past ten years, from the Arctic to the Tropics, FROGs have been used wherever there is oil and gas. In those locations, workers and their families have benefitted from the increased safety FROGs have brought to the industry.

The FROG changed the way the industry thinks about marine personnel transfer, and the recently introduced low-cost TORO transfer device marks the next step in this development. Reflex Marine developed the TORO to offer a more affordable advanced transfer solution so that even more operators and offshore workers could benefit from its improved safety and convenience.