Fire Protection Sub-committee discusses lifeboat accidents and life saving appliances

INTERTANKO attended the 50th meeting of the Fire Protection Sub-committee (FP) this week, where particular emphasis was placed on lifeboat accidents and the work of the Life Saving Appliances (LSA) working group. A large section of the Sub-committee's work entailed reviewing reports from IMO correspondence:  

Part 1 - Guidelines for the development of operation & maintenance manuals for lifeboats; 

Part 2 – Amendments to SOLAS Chapter III the LSA Code and revised recommendations on testing (resolution MSC.81(70)) as amended;

Part 3 – Amendments to Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) Circulars related to measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats. 

Other items discussed included : 

  • Compatibility of lifesaving appliances;
  • Inconsistencies in IMO instruments regarding LSA equipment.

INTERTANKO has for many years led on the issue of lifeboat accidents via its work programme, under the auspices of the INTERTANKO Safety, Technical and Environmental Committee. Indeed it was the Joint INTERTANKO/OCIMF/SIGTTO Lifeboat Accident Report over 5 years ago that was instrumental in bringing this issue onto the IMO work programme agenda.  

Details of the working group's report are still been reviewed by the IMO Plenary session as we go to press this week; therefore a full report will be issued in next week's Weekly NEWS. 

Nonetheless, we are pleased to bring to members' attention one particular issue relating to free-fall lifeboats and the current requirement for manned free-fall drills. 

Although still under discussion and therefore not yet approved by the MSC, it is hoped that the IMO will approve the following current text to revise SOLAS regulation III/19.3.3.4: 

'19.3.3.4 In the case of a lifeboat arranged for free-fall launching, 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 means of the secondary means of launching without the operating crew onboard, and then manoeuvred in the water by the operating crew. 

'At intervals of not more than 6 months, the lifeboat shall be either launched by free-fall with only the operating crew on board, or simulated launching shall be carried out in accordance with guidelines developed by the organization.* 

'*Refer to MSC/Circ.1137 on guidelines for simulated launching of free-fall lifeboats [or its successor.]'  

Whilst INTERTANKO has fought hard to amend the requirement so that no crew would be onboard during drills, we believe the current proposal would be a successful outcome to the issue after many years of work.  

A full report on this item, related circulars and other related issues will be forthcoming in next week's Weekly NEWS. 

We would also bring to members' attention that at IMO this week INTERTANKO has stated its willingness to cooperate with industry, lifeboat manufacturers or Governments to develop new float-free mechanisms for lifeboats. 

Contacts: Fredrik Larsson or Howard Snaith