Lifeboat incidents occur most often during training and drills and involve not just the hooks,but also the entire lifeboat release and retrieval system (LRRS), including wires, gripes and pennants. Identitied causes of lifeboat incidents include:
- lack of adequate training and knowledge;
- unfamiliarity with equipment;
- inadequate risk assessment and planning;
- systems that are not yet modified in accordance with SOLAS Reg III/1.5;
- systems with design issues;
- incorrectly and poorly maintained systems;
- communication problems;
- complacency and failure to follow safety procedures.
Analysis of case studies shows that almost all of the incidents involved qualified seafarers. It is essential that lessons learned are passed on both to those serving at sea and to management ashore. It should ensure that approperiate onboard procedures and training are applied and followed.
MSC.1/Circ.1578 on Guidance on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats
On 19 Jun 2017, IMO issued a circular “MSC.1/Circ.1578 on Guidance on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats”, highlighting:
“2.3 Lifeboats lowered by means of falls
“2.3.2 When drills are to be performed with persons on board the lifeboat, it is recommended that the boat be lowered and recovered without any persons on board first to ascertain that the arrangement functions correctly. In this case, the boat should then be lowered into the water with only the number of persons on board necessary to operate the boat.3
“2.3.3 To prevent lashings or gripes from getting entangled, proper release should be checked before swinging out the davit”.
The Guidelines for simulated launching of free-fall lifeboats are set out in the appendix, highlighting:
“Simulated launching carried out during drills, in accordance with SOLAS regulation III/19, is a means of training the crew in the free-fall release procedure of free-fall lifeboats without the physical activation of the release mechanism”.
IMO Resolutions with mandatory requirements, effective on 1 Jan 2020
- 402(96) will become mandatory on 1 Jan 2020
The Resolution MSC.402(96) contains the requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear. It was adopted on 19 May 2016. The requirements will become mandatory on 1 Jan 2020 upon entry into force of the associated amendments to SOLAS regulations III/3 and III/20. The development and adoption of Resolution MSC.402(96) was the outcome of the process to make MSC.1/Circ.1206 mandatory.
- 404(96) will become mandatory on 1 Jan 2020
The Resolution MSC.404(96) contains the amendments to regulations III/3 and III/20 of SOLAS.
Regulation III/20 provides that the maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair shall be carried out in accordance with the Requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear (MSC.402(96)).
- 425(98) will become mandatory on 1 Jan 2020.
The Resolution MSC. 425(98) contains amendments to the International Life-saving Appliance (lSA) Code.