(26 May 2006)
1. The Maritime Safety Committee, at its eighty-first session 10 to 19 May 2006, recalled that at its seventy-fifth session (15 to 24 May 2002), it had considered the issue of the unacceptably high number of accidents with lifeboats in which crew were being injured, sometimes fatally, while participating in lifeboat drills and/or inspections, and noted that most accidents fell under the following categories:
.1 failure of on-load release mechanism;
.2 inadvertent operation of on-load release mechanism;
.3 inadequate maintenance of lifeboats, davits and launching equipment;
.4 communication failures;
.5 lack of familiarity with lifeboats, davits, equipment and associated controls;
.6 unsafe practices during lifeboat drills and inspections; and
.7 design faults other than on-load release mechanisms.
2. Pending further consideration of the problem, the Committee approved MSC/Circ.1049 on Accidents with lifeboats, to draw the attention of manufacturers, shipowners, crews and classification societies to the personal injury and loss of life that may follow inadequate attention to the design, construction, maintenance and operation of lifeboats, davits and associated equipment and urged all concerned to take necessary action to prevent further accidents with lifeboats. It invited Member Governments to:
.1 bring the circular to the attention of their maritime Administrations, relevant industry organizations, manufacturers, shipowners, crews and classification societies;
.2 take the necessary action to prevent further accidents with lifeboats pending the development of appropriate IMO guidance;
.3 ensure that:
.3.1 on-load release equipment used on ships flying their flag is in full compliance with the requirements of paragraphs 126.96.36.199.2.2 to 188.8.131.52.5 of the LSA Code;
.3.2 all appropriate documentation for the maintenance and adjustment of lifeboats, launching appliances and associated equipment is available on board;
.3.3 personnel undertaking inspections, maintenance and adjustment of lifeboats, launching appliances and associated equipment are fully trained and familiar with these duties;
.3.4 maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances and associated equipment is carried out in accordance with approved established procedures;
.3.5 lifeboat drills are conducted in accordance with SOLAS regulation III/19.3.3 for the purpose of ensuring that ship’s personnel will be able to safely embark and launch the lifeboats in an emergency;
.3.6 the principles of safety and health at work apply to drills as well;
.3.7 personnel undertaking maintenance and repair activities are appropriately qualified;
.3.8 hanging-off pennants should only be used for maintenance purposes and not during training exercises;
.3.9 all tests required for the design and approval of life-saving appliances are conducted rigorously, according to the guidelines developed by the Organization, in order to identify and rectify any design faults at an early stage;
.3.10 the equipment is easily accessible for inspections and maintenance and is proven durable in harsh operational conditions, in addition to withstanding prototype tests; and
.3.11 the approving authorities or bodies pay close attention to proper workmanship and state-of-the-art possibilities when assessing equipment for approval; and
.4 encourage shipowners, when undertaking maintenance and repair activities, to employ qualified personnel, preferably certified by the manufacturer.
3. Member Governments were further invited, while enforcing the provisions of SOLAS regulation IX/4.3, to ensure that the above issues are addressed through the Safety Management System of the company, as appropriate.
4. The Committee further recalled that, at its seventy-seventh session (28 May to 6 June 2003), recognizing the experience gained since the approval of the Guidelines on inspection and maintenance of lifeboat on-load release gear (MSC/Circ.614) at its sixty-second session (24 to 28 May 1993), and that the implementation of expanded and improved guidelines could contribute towards a reduction of the incidence of accidents with lifeboats, it had approved the Guidelines for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances and on-load release gear (MSC/Circ.1093), superseding MSC/Circ.614. Taking into account subsequent amendments to SOLAS chapter III and the LSA Code, and having considered proposals by the fiftieth session of the Sub-Committee on Fire Protection, the Committee approved amendments to the Guidelines as set out in annex 1. The Committee further noted that the guidance developed for lifeboats could also apply to the periodic servicing and maintenance of liferafts, rescue boats and fast rescue boats and their launching appliances and on-load release gear.
5. The Committee further recalled that, at its seventy-ninth session (1 to 10 December 2004), it had endorsed the intention of the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment, in co-operation with the Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping, to develop further IMO guidance as envisioned in MSC/Circ.1049, and accordingly, approved the Guidance on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats (MSC/Circ.1136), as set out in annex 2. The Committee further recalled that the Guidance developed for lifeboats has relevance, in general, for emergency drills with other life-saving systems and should be taken into account when such drills are conducted. In connection with MSC/Circ.1136, and recognizing the need to provide a basic outline of essential steps to safely carry out simulated launching of free-fall lifeboats in accordance with SOLAS regulation III/184.108.40.206, and having considered proposals by the forty-seventh session of the Sub-Committee on Design and Equipment, the Committee further approved the Guidelines for simulated launching of free-fall lifeboats (MSC/Circ.1137), as set out in the appendix to annex 2.
6. Having considered the need to update several of the circulars discussed above, and having considered proposals by the fiftieth session of the Sub-Committee on Fire Protection to consolidate the numerous circulars on the subject of measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats in order to better serve the mariner, the Committee approved the annexed Guidelines for periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances and on-load release gear (annex 1) and Guidelines on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats (annex 2).
7. Member Governments are invited to give effect to the annexed Guidelines as soon as possible and to bring them to the attention of shipowners, ship operators, ship-vetting organizations, ship personnel, surveyors, manufacturers and all others concerned with the inspection and maintenance of lifeboats, liferafts, rescue boats and fast rescue boats and their launching appliances and on-load release gear.
8. This circular supersedes MSC/Circ.1049, MSC/Circ.1093, MSC/Circ.1136 and MSC/Circ.1137.
1. The objective of these Guidelines is to establish a uniform, safe and documented performance of periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances and on-load release gear.
2. These Guidelines relate to the application of the ISM Code to periodic servicing and maintenance of lifeboat arrangements and should therefore be reflected in procedures developed for a ship under that Code.
3. The general principle in these Guidelines may also be applied for the periodic servicing and maintenance of liferafts, rescue boats and fast rescue boats and their launching appliances and release gear.
4. Detailed guidance regarding some procedures covered by these Guidelines is provided in the appendix.
5. These Guidelines relate to the requirements contained in:
.1 SOLAS regulation III/20 – Operational readiness, maintenance and inspections; and
.2 SOLAS regulation III/36 – Instructions for on-board maintenance.
6. The company* is responsible for servicing and maintenance onboard its ships in accordance with SOLAS regulation III/20 and for the establishment and implementation of health, safety and environment (HSE) procedures covering all activities during servicing and maintenance.
*For the purpose of these Guidelines, company is as defined in SOLAS regulation IX/1.2.
7. The personnel carrying out servicing and maintenance are responsible for the performance of the work as authorized in accordance with the system specified in paragraph 10.
8. The above personnel are also responsible for complying with HSE instructions and procedures.
9. Where satisfied with an organization’s ability to carry out these functions, the Administration may authorize such organization and its personnel to perform the functions of the manufacturer and manufacturer’s certified personnel as assigned under these Guidelines, if manufacturer certified facilities are not available.
10. Where these Guidelines require certification of servicing personnel, such certification should be issued by the manufacturer in accordance with an established system for training and authorization.
11. Weekly and monthly inspections, and routine maintenance as defined by the manufacturer, should be conducted under the direct supervision of a senior ship’s officer in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
12. All other inspections, servicing and repair should be conducted by the manufacturer’s representative or a person appropriately trained and certified by the manufacturer for the work to be done.
13. All reports and checklists should be correctly filled out and signed by the person who carries out the inspection and maintenance work and should also be signed by the company’s representative or the ship’s master.
14. Records of inspections, servicing, repairs and maintenance should be updated and filed onboard the ship.
15. When repairs, thorough servicing and annual servicing are completed, a statement confirming that the lifeboat arrangements remain fit for purpose should be issued by the manufacturer’s representative or by the person certified by the manufacturer for the work.
1.1 Any inspection, servicing and repair should be carried out according to the system for inspection and services developed by the manufacturer.
1.2 A full set of maintenance manuals and associated documentation issued by the manufacturer should be available on board for use in all operations involved in the inspection, maintenance, adjustment and re-setting of the lifeboat and associated equipment, such as davits and release gear.
1.3 The manufacturer’s system for inspection and services should include the following items as a minimum.
2.1 As items listed in checklists for the weekly/monthly inspections also form the first part of the annual thorough examination, when carrying out this examination the inspection of these items should be performed by the ship’s crew in the presence of the manufacturer’s representative or a person appropriately trained and certified by the manufacturer for the work to be done.
2.2 Inspection and maintenance records of inspections and routine maintenance carried out by the ship’s crew and the applicable certificates for the launching appliances and equipment should be available.
2.3 Repairs and replacement of parts should be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements and standards.
2.4 The following items should be examined and checked for satisfactory condition and operation:
.1 condition of lifeboat structure including fixed and loose equipment;
.2 engine and propulsion system;
.3 sprinkler system, where fitted;
.4 air supply system, where fitted;
.5 manoeuvring system;
.6 power supply system; and
.7 bailing system.
2.5 The following should be examined for satisfactory condition and operation after the annual winch brake test with the empty boat, as required by paragraph 3.1:
.1 operation of devices for activation of release gear;
.2 excessive free play (tolerances);
.3 hydrostatic interlock system, where fitted;
.4 cables for control and release; and
.5 hook fastening.
1. The setting and maintenance of release gear are critical operations with regard to maintaining the safe operation of the lifeboat and the safety of personnel in the lifeboat. All inspection and maintenance operations on this equipment should therefore be carried out with the utmost care.
2. No maintenance or adjustment of the release gear should be undertaken while the hooks are under load.
3. Hanging-off pennants may be used for this purpose but should not remain connected at other times, such as when the lifeboat is normally stowed and during training exercises.
4. The release gear is to be examined prior to its operational test. The release gear is to be re-examined after its operational test and the dynamic winch brake test. Special consideration should be given to ensure that no damage has occurred during the winch brake test, especially the hook fastening.
2.6 Operational test of on-load release function:
.1 position the lifeboat partially into the water such that the mass of the boat is substantially supported by the falls and the hydrostatic interlock system, where fitted, is not triggered;
.2 operate the on-load release gear;
.3 reset the on-load release gear; and
.4 examine the release gear and hook fastening to ensure that the hook is completely reset and no damage has occurred.
2.7 Operational test of off-load release function:
.1 position the lifeboat fully waterborne;
.2 operate the off-load release gear;
.3 reset the on-load release gear; and
.4 recover the lifeboat to the stowed position and prepare for operational readiness.
Prior to hoisting, check that the release gear is completely and properly reset. The final turning-in of the lifeboat should be done without any persons on board.
2.8 Operational test of free-fall lifeboat release function:
.1 engage the simulated launching arrangements as specified in the manufacturer’s operating instructions;
.2 the operator should be properly seated and secured in the seat location from which the release mechanism is to be operated;
.3 operate the release mechanism to release the lifeboat;
.4 reset the lifeboat in the stowed configuration;
.5 repeat procedures .2 to .4 above, using the back-up release mechanism, when applicable.
.6 remove the simulated launching arrangements; and
.7 verify that the lifeboat is in the ready to launch stowed configuration.
2.9 The following items should be examined for satisfactory condition and operation:
.1 davit structure, in particular with regard to corrosion, misalignments, deformations and excessive free play;
.2 wires and sheaves, possible damages such as kinks and corrosion;
.3 lubrication of wires, sheaves and moving parts;
.4 functioning of limit switches;
.5 stored power systems; and
.6 hydraulic systems.
2.10 The following items should be examined for satisfactory condition and operation:
.1 open and inspect brake mechanism;
.2 replace brake pads, if necessary;
.3 remote control system;
.4 power supply system; and
.5 winch foundation.
3.1 Annual operational testing should preferably be done by lowering the empty boat. When the boat has reached its maximum lowering speed and before the boat enters the water, the brake should be abruptly applied.
3.2 The five-year operational test should be done by lowering the boat loaded to a proof load equal to 1.1 times the weight of the survival craft or rescue boat and its full complement of persons and equipment, or equivalent load. When the boat has reached its maximum lowering speed and before the boat enters the water, the brake should be abruptly applied.
3.3 Following these tests, the brake pads and stressed structural parts should be re-inspected.
In loading the boat for this test, precautions should be taken to ensure that the stability of the boat is not adversely affected by free surface effects or the raising of the centre of gravity.
Overhaul of on-load release gear includes:
.1 dismantling of hook release units;
.2 examination with regard to tolerances and design requirements;
.3 adjustment of release gear system after assembly;
.4 operational test as per above and with a load according to SOLAS regulation III/220.127.116.11; and
.5 examination of vital parts with regard to defects and cracks.
Non-destructive examination (NDE) techniques, such as dye penetrants (DPE), may be suitable.
1.1.1 It is essential that seafarers are familiar with the life-saving systems on board their ships and that they have confidence that the systems provided for their safety will work and will be effective in an emergency. Frequent periodic shipboard drills are necessary to achieve this.
1.1.2 Crew training is an important component of drills. As a supplement to initial shore-side training, on board training will familiarize crew members with the ship systems and the associated procedures for use, operation and drills. On these occasions, the objective is to develop appropriate crew competencies, enabling effective and safe utilization of the equipment required by the 1974 SOLAS Convention. The time limits set out in SOLAS for ship abandonment should be considered as a secondary objective when conducting drills.
Experience has shown that holding frequent drills furthers the goals of making the crew familiar with the life-saving systems on board their ships and increasing their confidence that the systems will work and will be effective in an emergency. Drills give the crew opportunity to gain experience in the use of the safety equipment and in co-operation. The ability to cope with an emergency and handle the situation, if the ship needs to be abandoned, needs to be well rehearsed. However, frequent crew changes sometimes make it difficult to assure that all on board have had the opportunity to participate in drills if only the minimum required drills are conducted. Therefore, consideration needs to be given to scheduling drills as necessary to ensure all on board have an early opportunity to become familiar with the systems on board.
1.3.1 Abandon ship drills should be planned, organized and performed so that the recognized risks are minimized and in accordance with relevant shipboard requirements of occupational safety and health.
1.3.2 Drills provide an opportunity to verify that the life-saving system is working and that all associated equipment is in place and in good working order, ready for use.
1.3.3 Before conducting drills, it should be checked that the lifeboat and its safety equipment have been maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, as well as noting all the precautionary measures necessary. Abnormal conditions of wear and tear or corrosion should be reported to the responsible officer immediately.
Drills should be conducted with an emphasis on learning and be viewed as a learning experience, not just as a task to meet a regulatory requirement to conduct drills. Whether they are emergency drills required by SOLAS or additional special drills conducted to enhance the competence of the crew members, they should be carried out at safe speed. During drills, care should be taken to ensure that everybody familiarizes themselves with their duties and with the equipment. If necessary, pauses should be made during the drills to explain especially difficult elements. The experience of the crew is an important factor in determining how fast a drill or certain drill elements should be carried out.
1.5.1 The 1974 SOLAS Convention requires that drills shall, as far as practicable, be conducted as if there was an actual emergency.* This means that the entire drill should, as far as possible, be carried out. The point is that, at the same time, it should be ensured that the drill can be carried out in such a way that it is safe in every respect. Consequently, elements of the drill that may involve unnecessary risks need special attention or may be excluded from the drill.
*Refer to SOLAS regulation III/19.3.1.
1.5.2 In preparing for a drill, those responsible should review the manufacturer’s instruction manual to assure that a planned drill is conducted properly. Those responsible for the drill should assure that the crew is familiar with the guidance provided in the life-saving system instruction manual.
1.5.3 Lessons learned in the course of a drill should be documented and made a part of follow-up shipboard training discussions and planning the next drill session.
1.5.4 The lowering of a boat with its full complement of persons is an example of an element of a drill that may, depending on the circumstances, involve an unnecessary risk. Such drills should only be carried out if special precautions are observed.