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Life Saving


Lifeboat incidents

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.

Ventilation of totally enclosed lifeboats.

The 106th session of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 106), held on 2-11 Nov 2022, approved:

  • draft amendments to the Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code
  • amendments to the “Revised recommendations on testing of lifesaving appliances” (MSC.81(70)), addressing testing with respect to the new ventilation requirements
  • a revision of the “Interim guidelines on life-saving appliances and arrangements for ships operating in polar waters” (MSC.1/Circ.1614) to include an operational methodology for estimating exposure times in polar waters
  • 1/Circ.1630/Rev.1 on Revised standardized life-saving appliance evaluation and test report forms, as a consequence of the adoption of Amendments to the Revised recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances (resolution MSC.81(70)) by (MSC.488(103)), regarding the oil resistance test
  • draft amendments to the forms of the record of equipment for certificates required by the SOLAS Convention regarding type of immersion suits and antiexposure suits MSC.207(81), as a consequence of the amendments to the LSA Code. The draft amendments to the record of equipment for certificates required by the SOLAS Convention is considered a minor amendment.

Discomfort experience in totally enclosed lifeboats by many crew members, after leaving the sinking of the MOL Comfort in the Indian Ocean in 2013, started the process to amend the LSA Code regarding the ventilation of totally enclosed lifeboats, and the approval of the draft amendments at the MSC 106. The aim of the draft amendments to the LSA Code is ensure the ventilation of totally enclosed lifeboats should be carried out to improve the thermal loading of occupants in emergency situations. A ventilation rate of at least 5 m3/hr/person should be provided to prevent high CO2 concentrations inside the lifeboat.

If MSC 107 adopts the draft amendments to the LSA Code in 2023, such amendments are expected to enter into force 1 January 2026. These new requirements for the ventilation of survival craft are expected to apply to all totally enclosed lifeboats installed on or after 1 January 2029. Totally enclosed lifeboats will need to be designed and fitted with a means of ventilation to meet the requirements.