Log In


Reset Password
  • MENU
    Local News
    Monday, July 22, 2024

    Survival Systems USA making most of offshore wind opportunity

    Workers in the offshore wind industry, in yellow, wait their turn in the modular egress training simulator that is lowered under water and rolled over at Survival Systems USA Friday, June 21, 2024 in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Workers in the offshore wind industry learn how to use compressed air before going into the modular egress training simulator that will be lowered under water and rolled over at Survival Systems USA Friday, June 21, 2024 in Groton. Earlier the group had to go into the simulator for breath hold training. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Dan McInnis, the employee that has been with the company at 25 years, cuts the ribbon during the ceremony for the opening of Survival Systems’ new building Friday, June 21, 2024, in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Workers in the offshore wind industry, in yellow, emerge from the modular egress training simulator after it was lowered under water and rolled over at Survival Systems USA Friday, June 21, 2024 in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    The modular egress training simulator is lowered under water and then rolled over so the offshore wind industry workers, in yellow, will have to swim their way out while while at Survival Systems USA Friday, June 21, 2024 in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Survival System's new building, right, Friday, June 21, 2024, in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Maria Hanna, chief executive officer of Survival Systems USA, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal look at the training tower, while seated next to Congressman Joe Courtney, right, during the ribbon cutting ceremony for Survival Systems’ new building Friday, June 21, 2024, in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Maria Hanna, chief executive officer and president of Survival Systems USA, speaks during the ribbon cutting ceremony for Survival Systems’ new building Friday, June 21, 2024, in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Albert Bohemier, founder of Survival Systems family of companies, speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony for Survival Systems’ new building Friday, June 21, 2024, in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints

    Groton ― Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Survival Systems USA pivoted.

    A leader in training the military, law enforcement and the aviation industry in water safety and survival, the company added the then-fledgling offshore wind industry to its client base just as COVID-19 was shutting things down.

    Since 2020, it’s now trained more than 1,500 people working for members of the Global Wind Organization, a nonprofit association of wind turbine manufacturers and renewable energy developers. The demand for Survival Systems’ services keeps growing.

    On Friday, the 25th anniversary of the company’s debut here on Tower Avenue, across the street from Groton-New London Airport, Survival Systems officials and state and local dignitaries cut a ceremonial ribbon marking the opening of a new building housing a 33-foot training tower that previously had been exposed to the elements.

    The tower looked like it was fashioned from a giant Erector Set.

    Among the attendees were U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, who called attention to Survival System’s place in the supply chain of vendors serving southeastern Connecticut’s offshore wind industry, whose epicenter is State Pier in New London.

    The new, 45-by-65-foot building, Survival System’s second, has space to accommodate more training equipment.

    “This whole area, geographically and economically, is a tremendous entrepreneurial explosion about to happen,” Blumenthal said.

    Courtney and others lauded Maria Hanna, Survival Systems’ president and chief executive officer, as a visionary. He said she saw right away the opportunity the offshore wind industry presented for her company ― people doing high-risk waterborne work who needed safety training.

    Paul Lavoie, Connecticut’s chief manufacturing officer, who was representing Gov. Ned Lamont, said offshore wind is providing the state with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “stand up a new industry.” He said 19 offshore wind turbines have been installed off the East Coast, a number that could grow into the thousands over the next 20 years or so.

    Kristin Urbach, executive director of the Connecticut Wind Collaborative, a nonprofit entity seeking to promote investment and innovation in the industry, said no other area is served by the equivalent of a Survival Systems to provide safety training.

    Also on hand was Albert Bohemier, the Canadian who founded the Survival Systems family of companies in 1982. He started a Kentucky division years later, and came to Groton in 1999, selling the Connecticut-based operation to Hanna in 2008.

    Hanna, an engineer and the wife of a former Navy submariner, said Survival Systems has trained more than 150,000 people in water survival. Any member of any branch of the U.S. military who has undergone “underwater egress training” has likely used Survival Systems’ equipment, been trained by Survival Systems’ personnel or participated in a program developed by Survival Systems, she said.

    “Today, it’s offshore wind,” she said. “It’s the future of Connecticut and our company.”

    Even as Friday’s program was taking place inside the company’s new building, a training class was in session on the second floor of Survival System’s other structure. Eighteen offshore wind workers took turns ― six at a time ― climbing into an upright “dunker,” officially known as a Modular Egress Training Simulator.

    Dropped into a 13-foot-deep pool, the simulator sank and rolled over, approximating the conditions of a crash involving, say, a plane, a helicopter or a car.

    The occupants, trained to extract themselves, soon popped out of the water.

    “Hope that never happens,” one said.

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.