IMO amendments to SOLAS on the prevention of accidents involving lifeboats

On 1 July 2006, amendments (adopted in May 2004) to SOLAS chapter III - Life-saving appliances and arrangements - entered into force (see Resolution MSC.152(78) - Adoption of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974). They are intended to help prevent accidents with lifeboats during drills. They stem from work by the IMO Sub-committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) which aimed to address the unacceptably high number of accidents with lifeboats in which crew have been injured, sometimes fatally, while participating in lifeboat drills and/or inspections.  

The amendments to SOLAS regulations III/19 - Emergency training and drills and III/20 Operational readiness, maintenance and inspections - concern the conditions in which lifeboat emergency training and drills should be conducted, and introduce changes to the operational requirements for maintenance, weekly and monthly inspections so as not to require any persons to be on board, and servicing of launching appliances and on-load release gear. 

In the light of the new regulation, INTERTANKO has in the two articles below provided members with some clarification of the rules and a recommendation on best practices and how to follow them.  

Further amendments 

At MSC 81 in May 2006 the Marine Safety Committee (MSC) approved for subsequent adoption a proposed draft amendment to SOLAS regulation III/ concerning provisions for the launch of free-fall lifeboats during abandon-ship drills. The amendment will allow, during the abandon-ship drill, for the lifeboat to 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 on board, and then manoeuvred in the water by the operating crew. The aim is to prevent accidents with lifeboats occurring during abandon-ship drills.

Meanwhile, the MSC agreed the following circulars: 

MSC.1/Circ.1207on early implementation of draft SOLAS regulation III/;

MSC.1/Circ.1205on Guidelines for developing operation and maintenance manuals for lifeboat systems;

MSC.1/Circ.1206on Measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats, which consolidates previous circulars MSC/Circ.1049, MSC/Circ.1093, MSC/Circ.1136 and MSC/Circ.1137. The consolidated circular includes the Guidelines for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances and on-load release gear; Guidance on safety during abandon-ship drills using lifeboats; and Guidelines for simulated launching of free-fall lifeboats.  

Please also see our article in Weekly NEWS No. 2/2006 of 13 January 2006 - Fire Protection Sub-committee discusses lifeboat accidents and life saving appliances. 

Contact: Fredrik Larsson