The intumescent mineral fiber mat is installed on vessels facing the fire threat to maximize fire resistance. On a vehicle ferry, for example, the mat faces the vehicle deck and, in the event of a fire, insulates the supporting honeycomb panel and the aluminum structure of the vessel behind the SFP panels.

The aluminum honeycomb panel is skinned with a 0.01-inch glass/epoxy laminate face. The prepreg self-adheres to the aluminum honeycomb and simultaneously adheres to the intumescent mat. A flame, smoke and toxicity-compliant bright white washable finish is applied to the surface of the mat in the same single shot process, giving a finished overall panel thickness of ¾ inches and weighing just over one pound per square foot.

The various layers are laid up by hand and cured in heated presses. The thermoset epoxy matrix is shielded from excessive heat and flame by the mat so that the panels maintain support as the mat intumesces to form a 2½ -inch-thick insulating blanket when exposed to heat.

Structural fire protection requirements in marine applications can be extensive, with as much as 75,000 square feet on a vessel subject to safety standards. The FReD panels are built as large as 4 x 8 feet in a standardized construction process. The 4-foot width matches the frame spacings on the vessels for ease of installation, and most panels can be installed onsite without any cutting to size. The TFP intumescent mat is the same as the panel size to eliminate any gaps where fire could penetrate.

The FReD structural fire protection panels were a minimum of 18% lighter than the previous panels, which helped Incat’s vessel achieve required speeds while minimizing fuel burn and emissions. Reduced weight also enables ships to operate in shallower waters and can be used to lower the center of gravity to decrease uncomfortable roll and pitch motions.

Incat installed the FReD structural fire protection panels on the Volcan de Taidia, a 111-meter-long ferry handed over to Spanish ferry operator Naveira Armas in July 2021. From start to finish, the FReD panels were designed, developed, tested, certified and installed into the Volcan de Taidia in a little over 2 years – extremely fast given the complexity of the project.

Patrice Aylward is a freelance writer in Cleveland. Email comments to

The FReD structural fire protection panels were installed on the 111-meter-long ferry Volcan de Taidia in July 2021. The ship was built by Incat Tasmania for Spanish ferry operator Naveira Armas SA.

Photo Credit: AYRES Composite Panels