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News: New IMO lifeboat requirements enter into force

08 January 2020

Three new compulsory IMO resolutions entered into force on 1 January 2020. These resolutions deal with the maintenance, testing and survey periods for lifeboats and analysis of ship escape routes. They provide enhanced requirements for owners and their crews to comply with.

 
Resolution MSC.402(96) – Requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear.

The resolution requirements include, but are not limited to:

  1. Weekly and monthly inspections and maintenance by authorised service providers or shipboard personnel under the direction of a senior ship’s officer in accordance with the maintenance manual(s) 

  2. An annual thorough examination and operational test by certified personnel of the manufacturer or an authorised service provider, to include:
    i) the release gear of lifeboats and rescue boats
    ii) davit-launched lifeboats’ and rescue boats’ on-load release function

  3. A five-year thorough examination, overhaul and overload operational tests by certified personnel of the manufacturer or an authorised service provider, to include:
    i) the winches of the launching appliances and the brake
    ii) dismantling of hook release units
    iii) examinations with regard to tolerances and design requirements
    iv) examinations of vital parts with regard to defects and cracks

  4. Records of maintenance, examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair being kept updated and filed on board the ship

  5. A full set of maintenance manuals and associated technical documentation being available on board


Resolution MSC.404(96) – Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended, containing amendments to SOLAS III/3 and III/20.

The resolution includes amendments that deal with the means of escape from ships and to take account of Resolution MSC.402(96).

Regulation 13 has been amended to include an evacuation analysis for all passenger ships carrying more than 36 passengers. The amended regulation includes requirements for escape routes for passenger ships to be evaluated by an evacuation analysis early in the design process. This analysis shall apply to:

  1. Ro-ro passenger ships constructed on or after 1 July 1999

  2. Other passenger ships constructed on or after 1 January 2020 carrying more than 36 passengers.


The aim is for the analysis to:

  1. identify and eliminate, as far as practicable, congestion which may develop during an abandonment

  2. demonstrate that escape arrangements are sufficiently flexible to provide for the possibility that certain escape routes, assembly stations, embarkation stations or survival craft may not be available as a result of a casualty.


Resolution MSC.409(97) - Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended

In addition to amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/3-12 on protection against noise and regulations II-2/1 and II-2/10 on firefighting, the resolution also provides new regulation XI-1/2-1 for harmonization of survey periods of cargo ships which are not subject to the Enhanced Survey Program (ESP) Code. The surveys include lifeboat inspections.

Commentary

The IMO hopes that the coming into force of these three resolutions will 'ensure that seafarers can be confident that they can fully rely on the IMO-mandated life-saving appliances and equipment at their disposal'.

A survey in winter 2019 by the global maritime publication Safety at Sea found that 45% of crew surveyed did not feel confident and safe when carrying out lifeboat drills, with 89% of respondents pinpointing on load release systems as the greatest safety issue when conducting lifeboat launches. However, 88% of respondents thought the three new resolutions would reduce lifeboat incidents.

Members should ensure that they are complying with the new resolutions and maintaining adequate records as evidence.​