Lightening protection for superyachts


A lightning strike above all is dangerous, besides the damage, owners have to cope with the lost cruising time and potential loss of charter income. ELNA GmbH offers the solution with their Marine DDCE

For several years now, the damages caused by lightning strikes on yachts have been increasing. Reported incidents, up to and including total losses, have tripled and experts expect the numbers to continue to rise. ELNA GmbH, based near Hamburg, now offers a special lightning protection system that some large yacht owners have had installed on their vessels. Among others, the Marine DDCE has been delivered on a Swan 115, a Baltic 146 and a 43-metre Royal Huisman.

The Marine DDCE system, manufactured by Dinnteco in Spain and distributed exclusively in Europe by ELNA, prevents the occurrence of lightning within a protective radius of up to 100 metres by means of a patented system. This means that the so-called upward streamer, which is necessary for the main discharge, can no longer occur. This reliably prevents direct lightning strikes to the yacht to be protected. The unit only requires sufficient earthing, no power supply is necessary.

“Until now, motor and sailing yachts have not been in the focus of attention when it comes to lightning protection, because even if lightning is discharged, damage is often caused by the constructional conditions of yachts. With the Marine DDCE, direct lightning strikes to the protected structure are avoided by 98%. This is the first time that an effective solution has been developed for lightning protection on yachts,” says Leif Schick, Managing Director of ELNA. “The DDCE system has already been protecting buildings for many years with amazing results. With the Marine DDCE we can now offer a device explicitly designed for the requirements and harsh conditions at sea.”

Pantaenius’ yacht insurance specialists also welcome the new offering. “Incidents of lightning strikes on yachts have increased sharply in recent years,” knows Holger Flindt, Head of Claims at Pantaenius. “Not always but very often a direct or indirect lightning strike means a considerable danger for people and material. In such a case, a properly installed lightning protection system such as the DDCE system not only protects against damage and injury, but also against any excess in the event of a claim.”

During a thunderstorm, a potential difference is created between the clouds, which are usually negatively charged in a thunderstorm, and the positively charged earth. At certain points, this can lead to an increase in charge concentrations. In these strong electrical voltage fields between clouds and earth, lightning finally discharges. In the process, negative charge carriers first migrate towards the ground in the so-called conductive lightning and prepare an ionised channel through which the current can finally flow. At the same time, the ground under the thunderstorm becomes positively charged. At exposed locations such as the masts of sailing yachts or equipment carriers of motor yachts – the electric field is particularly large. From such places, a positive charge – also called an upward streamer – can go towards the leading lightning and closes the lightning channel so that the main discharge can follow. This usually consists of several individual discharges and can reach a current strength of 100,000 amperes.

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