MSC.1/Circ.1206 – Lifeboats - INTERTANKO´s advice on best practice

In respect of the SOLAS Convention's recommendatory guidelines


 – Measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats, INTERTANKO has over the last few weeks visited three leading lifeboat manufacturers in northern Europe to discuss the new guidelines on inspection and maintenance as recommended by the new SOLAS Chapter III, Regulation 20.

The guidelines recommend that lifeboat systems on SOLAS vessels shall be inspected and maintained according to specific procedures, as developed by the manufacturer. The guidelines cover the lifeboats as well as the release gears, davits and winches, and the procedures for ad hoc services, regular maintenance, annual and five-yearly services.  

It also recommends that the lifeboat system be inspected and certified by the manufacturer, or a person authorised by the manufacturer, annually and at five-year intervals. 

However, if manufacturers' certified facilities are not available, the Administration may/shall authorise a service organisation and its personnel to perform the functions of a manufacturer no longer in existence.  

In general, the manufacturers welcome these new amendments to SOLAS as they believe the recommendations will enforce and strengthen shipowners' focus on maintenance of their equipment, which will increase the safety level onboard.  

One effect of this will be that lifeboat manufacturers will have to build up world-wide service organisations, or seek to increase the number of global service partners. In case a manufacturer does not have the ability or intention to build up such a service, and thus is not available to carry out inspections and certification, the Administration is expected to authorise appropriate organisations to carry out the service. 

The manufacturers' advice to shipowners, is as follows: 

  1. Identify the type, model and the original manufacturer of your equipment.
  2. Collect relevant information such as serial number, inspection records, certificates or similar documentation of the equipment.
  3. Confirm if the manufacturer is still active, and if so, order a service/inspection.
  4. If the manufacturer no longer exists, determine if any other manufacturer owns the rights/trademark, and take contact accordingly.
  5. If the manufacturer no longer exists, and no other manufacturer owns the trademark, contact your flag state to determine whether any other organisation has been authorised by them to carry out inspections and certifications for the equipment in question.

The manufacturer’s inspectors, will at the first inspection, audit the documentation, maintenance protocols and carry out a visual inspection of the equipment. If it is evident that the vessel's equipment lacks maintenance, a thorough inspection together with load tests can be expected, which may cause delay to the vessel. 

Members are also reminded of paragraph 1.2.3 in the ISM-Code which states: 

§ 1.2.3 The safety management system should ensure: 

.1 compliance with mandatory rules and regulations; and
.2 that applicable codes, guidelines and standards recommended by the Organization,    Administrations, classification societies and maritime industry organizations are taken into account.

INTERTANKO therefore recommends that members follow the recommended MSC.1/Circ.1206, in order to maintain the highest possible standard of their lifeboat equipment, and to avoid unnecessary delays to their vessels. 

Contact: Fredrik Larsson