Launching, Retrieving, Maintaining Of Lifeboats Is A High-risk Activity Particularly Whilst At Sea, And As Such As It Should Be Approached In Way That All Hazards Are Identified And Mitigated. Seafarers Must Know The Solas Requirements And IMO Guidelines For Life Boat Launching Procedures.
What Are The SOLAS Amendments For Life Boat Launching And When Did They Come Into Practice?
Amendments To The International Convention For The Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) Aimed At Preventing Accides During Lifeboat Launching Entered Into Force On 1 January 2013.
According To The Amendments Adopted In May 2011 And The New Paragraph 5 To SOLAS Regulation III/1, Lifeboat On-load Release Mechanisms Not Complying With The New International Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code Requirements, Have To Be Replaced, No Later Than The First Scheduled Dry-docking Of The Ship After 1st July 2014 But, In Any Case, Not Later Than 1st July 2019.
The SOLAS Amendment Is Intended To Establish New, Stricter, Safety Standards For Lifeboat Release And Retrieval Systems And Requires The Assessment And Possible Replacement Of A Large Number Of Lifeboat Release Hooks.
Why Do Majority Of Lifeboat Accidents Take Place And What Are The Measures Take To Overcome Them?
The Majority Of Accidents Related To Lifeboats Generally Result From Lack Of Familiarity With Equipment, Inadequate Maintenance, Unsafe Practice During Lifeboat Drills And Inspections/test, Failure Of Communications, And Failure Of Involved Personnel To Assess The Relevant Risks And Take The Required Measures. These Factors Have Been Exacerbated In Many Cases By The Design And Instructions Provided By The Manufacturers.
The Design Of Some Equipment And Manufacturers’ Instructions With Regards To Repair And Maintenance, May Require Special Attention And Training Of Ship’s Personnel In Order To Attain The Required Level Of Familiarity To Overcome Risks. Also Particular Attention Must Be Paid To The Authorized By Manufacturers Service Engineers When They Attend The Maintenance Or Inspect The Various Critical Parts Of The Lifeboats (winches, Release Mechanism), Bearing In Mind That Human Errors Apply Also To Them.
What Is The IMO Guidelines For Correct Launching Procedure For Conventional Lifeboat?
During Abandon Ship Drills, When Lowering And Manoeuvring Is In Process, The Life Boats Should Never Be Lowered Simultaneously. When The First Life Boat Has Been Safely Recovered And Secured On Board, Only Then The Crew May Proceed With The Lowering Of The Second Life Boat.
Ship’s Staff Should Always Remember That The Setting And Maintenance Of The Release Gear And The Lifeboats Winch Are Critical To The Safe Operation Of Lifeboats And The Safety Of Personnel In The Lifeboat. All Inspections, Maintenance, Operations And Tests Of This Equipment Should Therefore Be Carried Out With Utmost Care And After Having Conducted Risk Assessment. Moreover, Evidence (photos) Of Testing Of The Release Gear Should Be Sent To The Office, Via Crew Mail, On A Monthly Basis.
Procedures For Each Type And Maker Of Lifeboat Should Be Regularly Reviewed To Ensure They Contain Correct Actions And Precautions, Which Must Be Carefully Followed As Laid Out.
It Is Imperative That The Crew Fully Understand The Operation Of All Equipment, Especially Of Winches, Davits And Release Gear, In Order To Ensure That Mechanisms Are In Good Order And All Safety Interlocks Have Been Checked And Confirmed In Place.
Review And Understand The Lifeboat Manufacturers’ Specifications And recommendations For Operations And Maintenance.
- No Person Must Enter The Lifeboat After Its Fist Lashing Has Been Removed.
- Before Placing Persons Onboard A Lifeboat, Same Must First Be Lowered One (1) Meter Above The Water And Recovered Without Persons On Board To Ascertain That The Arrangement Functions Correctly. Upon Recovery, Ch. Enginer Shall Check And Inspect Indicators And Associated Equipment.
- The Lifeboat Should Be Lowered Into The Water With Only The Number Of Persons On Board Necessary To Operate The Boat. One Experienced Deck Officer And One Engineer Officer Must Be Among Them.
- No Modification (drilling For Locking Pin Insertion Point ) To On Load Release Hooks Shall Take Place And Existing Locking Pins Must Have Clear Instructions Nearby, For Easy And Fast Guidance And Be Coloured On The Insertion Point, As Addressed In MSC.1/Circ.1205. In Addition, A Warning Notice For The Handle Of The Locking Pin, That It Must Be Removed Before Activating The Release Mechanism, Should Be Placed- The Lifeboat Should Be Lowered Into The Water Only If Suitable And Certified Fall Preventive Device Is Fitted At Both Lifeboat Hooks.
- The Responsible Officer Must Ensure That Lifeboat FPDs Are Properly In Place Before Commencing Any Drill. Please See Photos Below For Your Further Guidance.
The FPDs Should Be Used Only For Drill Purposes, Or In The Event Of Launching And Recovery Of The Life Boat In Water For Non-emergency Purposes (i.e Inspection), And Should Be Safely Stored Inside The Lifeboat, After Completion Of Same. The Reason For Use Of The FPD Is Because It Protects The Crew In Case The Boat Is Unintentionally Disconnected From The Falls. For This Reason, The Use Of FPD Should Be Part Of The Training Onboard And Crew Should Be As Familiar With Them As With Other Parts Of The Operational Equipment Of The Boat. Training Of The Crew Must Contain The Operations That Have To Be Carried Out At The Bow And Stern Hooks For Using The FPD- On Completion Of Operation Personnel Must Leave The Boat When It Reaches The embarkation Deck, And Before The Boat Is Secured.
- The Whole Operation Must Be Carried Out Under The Supervision Of Master And Chief Engineer.
In This Respect, Organizations And Reputable Third Parties Have Taken Actions To Minimize Accidents.
What Guidines Are To Be Followed For Launching Free Fall Life Boat According To IMO?
In Line With SOLAS Chapter III Regulation 19 Para 3.3.4, “free Fall Life Boats Must Be Lowered In The Water At Least Once Every Three Months During An Abandon Ship Drill The Crew Shall Board The Lifeboat, Properly Secure Themselves In Their Seats And Commence The Launch Procedure Up To But Not Including The Actual Release Of The Lifeboat (i.e., The Release Hook Shall Not Be Released).
The Lifeboat Shall Then Either Be Free-fall Launched With Only The Required Operating Crew On Board, Or Lowered Into The Water By Secondary Means Of Launching Without The Operating Crew On Board, And Then Manoeuvred In The Water By The Operating Crew. At Intervals Of Not More Than Six Months, The Lifeboat Shall Either Be Launched By Free-fall With Only The Operating Crew On Board, Or Simulated Launching Shall Be Carried Out In Accordance With The Guidelines Developed By The Organization”.
To Sum Up, Technically, As Per Above SOLAS Regulation The FFLB Must Be:
A. Lowered And Manoeuvred In The Water At Intervals Not Exceeding The Three (3) Months Using Life Boat Davit (secondary Mean).
1. The Entire Crew Will Enter The Life Boat And Take Their Respective Position.
2. The Crew Will Start And Test Life Boat Engine Ahead And Astern As Well As Boat’s Steering Port And Starboard.
3. The Crew Will Exit From The Life Boat.
4. The Boat Shall Then Be Launched In The Water By Secondary Means (davit) With NO Crew Inside. Make Sure That The Life Boat Will Remain Properly Moored Next To Vessel.
5. Operating Crew Shall Proceed To The Life Boat Using The Rescue Boat.
6. Once The Operating Crew Reach The Life Boat, The Life Boat Shall Then Be Manoeuvred In The Water By The OPERATING Crew Only.
7. After Completion Of Manoeuvring, Operating Crew Will Exit From The Life Boat After Having Prepared The Boat For Recovery.
8. Operating Crew Return To The Vessel.
9. Life Boat Recovered Using The Davit.
B. Lowered And Manoeuvred In The Water By Free Fall Launching Every Six Months. However, There Is NO Need To Free Fall Launch The Life Boat, Provided That SIMULATED LAUNCHING Has Been Conducted At Interval Not Exceeding The Six months, As Is Mentioned Above.
GUIDELINES FOR THE SIMULATED LAUNCHING OF FREEFALL LIFE BOATS
The Purpose Of These Guidelines Is To Provide A Basic Outline Of Essential Steps To Safely Carry Out Simulated Launching. These Guidelines Are General; The Lifeboat Manufacturer’s Instruction Manual Should Always Be Consulted Before Conducting Simulated Launching. Simulated Launching Should Only Be Carried Out With Lifeboats And Launching Appliances Designed To Accommodate It, And For Which The Manufacturer Has Provided Instructions. Simulated Launching Should Be Carried Out Under The Supervision Of A Responsible Person Who Should Be An Officer Experienced In Such Procedures.
Typical Simulated Launching Sequence
1. Check Equipment And Documentation To Ensure That All Components Of The Lifeboat
And Launching Appliances Are In Good Operational Condition.
2. Ensure That The Restraining Device(s) Provided By The Manufacturer For Simulated Launching Are Installed And Ensure And That The Free-fall Release Mechanism Is Fully And Correctly Engaged.
3. Establish And Maintain Good Communication Between The Assigned Operating Crew And The Responsible Person.
4. Disengage Lashings, Grips, Etc., Installed To Secure The Lifeboat For Sea Or For
Maintenance, Except Those Required For Simulated Free-fall.
5. Participating Crew Board The Lifeboat And Fasten Their Seatbelts Under The Supervision Of The Responsible Person.
6. All Crew, Except For The Assigned Operating Crew, Disembark The Lifeboat. The Assigned Operating Crew Fully Prepares The Lifeboat For Free-fall Launch And Secures Themselves In Their Seats For The Release Operation.
7. The Assigned Operating Crew Activates The Release Mechanism When Instructed By The Responsible Person. Ensure That The Release Mechanism Operates Satisfactorily And, If Applicable, The Lifeboat Travels Down The Ramp To The Distance Specified In The Manufacturer’s Instructions.
8. Re-secure The Lifeboat To Its Stowed Position, Using The Means Provided By The Manufacturer And Ensure That The Free-fall Release Mechanism Is Fully And Correctly Engaged.
9. Repeat Steps 3-7 Above, Using The Back-up Release Mechanism When Applicable.
10. The Assigned Operating Crew Disembarks The Lifeboat.
11. Ensure That The Lifeboat Is Returned To Its Normal Stowed Condition. Remove Any Restraining And/or Recovery Devices Used Only For The Simulated Launching Procedure
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