Bulletproof Life Vest Could Better Protect Sailors

By Yasmin Tadjdeh
The floating armor torso system, built by United Kingdom-based BCB International, is a dual life jacket and waterproof body armor that gives users “two life saving chances” after being shot.

“If you get shot the body armor saves your life, but if you get shot while in the water … the life jacket saves your life again,” said Ben Simmons, BCB International’s sales and special projects manager for the Asia, Australia, South America and Caribbean regions.

If a user is shot, he will initially be protected by the system’s waterproof and lightweight bulletproof armor, which protects against 9mm and .44-magnum ammunition. If that user — perhaps a sailor, member of a coast guard or police officer who works near a dock — falls into a body of water, the life jacket will automatically inflate, Simmons said.

The life jacket component includes the vest, an automatic inflator, a C02 canister and a manual override device. Within three seconds of submersion, the automatic inflator will release 60 grams of C02 into the lifejacket. “If it doesn’t you can manually pull it,” he said.

The vest has the capability to swell up with 275 newtons of force, which is strong enough to keep a user weighing around 175 pounds with nearly 45 pounds of gear afloat for three days, he said.

“Two-hundred and seventy-five newtons is going to give him a big advantage,” he added. At “175 [newtons], at 100 even, you’re going to struggle to be buoyant. It’s that extra buoyancy that makes a big, big difference.”

The design of the system is intended to optimize a user’s “freeboard,” the distance between someone’s mouth and the waterline. The farther the distance the better, he noted.

Simmons declined to disclose the price of the system but said it was cost effective, albeit more expensive than just a standard bulletproof vest.

“You’re looking at a highly competitively priced armor system inside, and a highly competitively priced inflatable system … all integrated into one package,” he said.

The system is reusable and comes in a variety of sizes, he said.

Topics: Science and Engineering Technology

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