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Many shipowners build vessels, even very large vessels, with fully enclosed free-fall lifeboats in the belief that this is a safer means of saving the crew in case the ship has to be abandoned.
The Association would like to inform its Members of a recent circular released by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) concerning lifeboat launching arrangements. The IMO has moved to clarify SOLAS regulation III/18.104.22.168 following some confusion over whether crew are required to be onboard lifeboats during launching; this bulletin presents a summary of the information.
The Association would like to draw the attention of its members towards the Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC) which will be carried out for a three month period between the 1st of September and the 30th of November by both the Paris and Tokyo Memorandums of Understanding.
The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), through a recently published Marine Information Notice (MIN), recommends that a system should be introduced whereby maintenance shackles are rigged to by-pass lifeboat on-load release hooks during the lowering and recovery stages of lifeboat drills.
The US Coast Guard (USCG) has issued a circular concerning servicing and maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances and on-load release gear. Although the circular is aimed at US-flagged ships, it provides guidance on the implementation of SOLAS and will be of interest to all ship owners and operators.
The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) has updated two of its Information Bulletins relating to lifeboat safety, after investigation into a recent tragic lifeboat drill incident.
Loss Prevention Bulletin 489 (issued September 2006) detailed a lifeboat drill incident that unfortunately resulted in the death of one of the crew members on board. After the incident the lifeboat was brought to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) Engineering Branch laboratory for examination. The davit launch gravity type enclosed lifeboat was found to be fitted with a SRS-37 type release gear mechanism manufactured in 2001 by Shigi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.
Earlier this year the IMO Maritime Safety Committee approved the Guide on recovery techniques, which provides specific guidance to seafarers on techniques for the recovery of persons in distress at sea.
The case described below highlights the need for shipowners to carry out proper risk assessments so that the master and his officers have guidance on how to devise and execute an appropriate plan with regard to the rescue of a person in the water when weather conditions do not permit the launching of a rescue craft.