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miércoles, 21 de febrero de 2007

SOLAS: Launching lifeboats without crew onboard *Update*

► 10th January 2007: IMO’s senior technical officer Heike Hoppe stated in a letter to Fairplay Shipping Weekly published on 2 November 2006 that the aim of the recent SOLAS amendments was to leave ‘the master full discretion to decide the conditions in which such training and drills should be conducted’. Perhaps more importantly he went on to say,

‘elements of the drill that might involve an unnecessary risks need special attention or might be excluded. The lowering of a lifeboat with its full complement of people is an example that might, depending on the circumstances, involve an unnecessary risk. Such drills should be carried out only if special precautions are observed.’

A recent lifeboat accident report from Canada highlights the need for exceptional caution during lifeboat drills and that ‘special precautions’ could be a temporary hook locking device.

► 30th August 2006: The UK coastguard (MCA) have published a report on lifeboat design and existing on-load release hooks. In addition to the IMO circulars the report concludes:

□ many existing on-load release hooks may be inherently unsafe and therefore not fit for purpose
□ some designs of on-load hook can be unstable….there is no defence against defects or faults in the operating mechanism, or errors by the crew, or incorrect resetting of the hook after being released.
□ the solution is not in training or maintenance but in radical re-design of the hook types

and recommends:
□ to avoid further unnecessary fatalities during mandatory lifeboat tests and trials….we endorse a system whereby maintenance shackles are rigged to by-pass the on-load release hook during lowering and recovery, but are disconnected at all other times. (See Safelaunch safety pin below)

► 14th August 2006: IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 81 May 2006) considered the number of casualties with lifeboat systems and recognised the need to improve manuals for operation and maintenance of lifeboat systems. The approved guidelines are published as:
MSC.1/Circ.1205 Guidelines for developing operation and maintenance manuals for lifeboat systems.

► 20th Jun 2006: IMO have updated and consolidated the numerous circulars on the subject of measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats into one document – IMO MSC circular 1206 with:
□ Annex 1 Guidelines for servicing & maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances & on-load release gear
□ Annex 2 Guidelines on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats

Member Governments are invited to give effect to the annexed Guidelines as soon as possible.

(Circular 1206 supersedes MSC/Circ.1049, MSC/Circ.1093, MSC/Circ.1136 and MSC/Circ.1137.)

► PSC inspectors already appear to be following the guidance on safety during abandon ship drills using lifeboats contained in MSC circular 1206 Annex 2 paragraph 2.3.2:

Before placing persons onboard a lifeboat, it is recommended that the boat first be lowered and recovered without persons on board to ascertain that the arrangement functions correctly. The boat should then be lowered into the water with only the number of persons on board necessary to operate the boat.

If there is a safe and practical way of getting the assigned operating crew into the boat in the water this may be an acceptable alternative. A PSC inspector would not want to see crew climbing down an exceptionally long boarding ladder overhanging the flare of the hull aft.

There is still a risk in hoisting the boat and then loading it with the crew for re-lowering to the water but the overall risk should be reduced by the initial 'test' lowering - many reported accidents have involved failure of the brake system (which has been incorrectly re-assembled after maintenance on board) and the initial 'test' lowering will hopefully test the brake system. See MSC circular 1206 Annex 1.

The risk can be further reduced by using an interlocking device for lifeboat drills such as the SAFELAUNCH safety pin.

► 20th September 2005: Expected to enter into force 1st July 2006 is an amendment to SOLAS allowing lifeboats which have to be manoeuvred at abandon ship drills by an assigned crew to be launched without the crew on board.
SOLAS III Regulation 19, 3.3.3 currently says ‘….each lifeboat shall be launched with its assigned operating crew aboard….’ but the text will be amended to ‘….each lifeboat shall be launched , and manoeuvred in the water by its assigned operating crew….’.

Regulation 20, Weekly Inspections 6.3 and Periodic servicing of launching appliances and on-load release gear 11.3 are also amended to allow procedures without persons on board.

Amendments are contained in IMO resolution MSC.152(78).

Source: NE

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