Seafarers should be able to fully rely on the IMO-mandated life-saving appliances and equipment at their disposal, says the IMO.
10 OCT 2019
In May 2016, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee’s 96th session (MSC 96) adopted amendments to SOLAS regulations III/3 and III/20. These amendments enter into force on 1 January 2020 and introduce mandatory new requirements for the maintenance and inspection of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear to be carried out by ‘certified personnel’ as per Resolution MSC.402(96)).
The provisions aim to prevent accidents with survival craft and address longstanding issues such as the need for uniform, safe and documented standards related to the servicing of these appliances. “The intention is to ensure that seafarers can be confident that they can fully rely on the IMO-mandated life-saving appliances and equipment at their disposal”, says the IMO.
The scope of the required inspections and operational tests are further described in Section 6 of Resolution MSC.402(96). Instructions for on-board maintenance are described in SOLAS regulation III/36.
Shipowners and operators should prepare for the new requirements by updating onboard procedures and establishing an overview of authorized service providers in relevant areas prior to the requirement entering into force on 1 January 2020.
We also take this opportunity to remind operators of the importance of proper onboard crew training as insufficient onboard procedures and crew competence have been identified as contributing factors in many lifeboat and rescue boat accidents. While crew members that have obtained a formal “Certificate of proficiency in survival craft, rescue boats and fast rescue boats” from recognised training institutions have demonstrated sufficient competence and knowledge to enable them to, in general terms, take charge of a survival craft or rescue boat during and after launch, they may not be properly trained to operate the type of lifeboat and rescue boat carried on board their own ship of employment. See also our publication “On-load release hooks in lifeboats and rescue boats” of 2 March 2016.