Refurbished Hydrostatic Release Units


Published: 11 March 2015

Members are advised to be on the lookout for the attempted supply and installation of non-original or refurbished hydrostatic release units for life rafts as these represent a serious safety risk.

The Association is grateful to Messrs. Seaborne and Hammer for their assistance with this update.

The concern

It has been notified by maritime authorities AMSA and the MCA, as well as manufacturers Hammar, that time expired H20 Hydrostatic Release Units (HRU) have been refurbished and re-sold as new, original, units. This is apparently being done by unauthorised persons, who do not have any permission from Hammar in this regard.

It appears that these refurbished units have had their original labels removed and these were replaced with similar looking, but sub-standard, ones which may deteriorate a short while after installation.

Should any such non-original or refurbished unit be found to be installed anywhere, it should be removed immediately.

This issue is of serious concern, and manufacturers Hammar have released the following information to address the situation. Further information is also available from the UK MCA and Australia's AMSA.

These units are a vital component of the functioning of life rafts which are released should a vessel sink. If these units are not original and not within their manufacturer's stated life-span then they represent a significant safety risk as they may not work as designed in real life. The standard life span of an original unit is two years, after which time it should be replaced.

A video demonstration of how a Hydrostatic Release Unit is meant to work can be found here:

Risk management

It is very important to the safety of the crew and vessel that only original units are sourced for hydrostatic release units, and that these are procured from authorised agents of known manufacturers. Technical managers need to ensure that their supply chain remains secure for the sourcing of all original equipment and any spare parts for a vessel. There must also be a thorough understanding of what types of items cannot be refurbished and which must be of original manufacture.

Hammer have stated that their H20 item, manufactured after 24 February 2009 includes the following security features to allow them to be distinguished from fakes or refurbished units. These include:

  1. a unique serial number / alphanumeric code
  2. the production date
  3. a holospot which shimmers in rainbow colours under direct light

If members have recently been replacing any such units it will be worthwhile to double check that they are indeed original units from a recognised legitimate source. In case of doubt further inspection should be undertaken. If doubt cannot be removed, then the unit should be removed instead.

Contact should be made with suppliers, and if necessary manufacturers, to discuss this issue further.

Further reading

The Association has previously warned of scams involving marine equipment, and members should be aware of the risk of fraudulent activity in this field. For further information, members are asked to refer to the Association's in depth resource section for this topic.

For vessel specific enquiries, members are asked to contact their usual Skuld business unit.

For further information, members are asked to contact the Loss Prevention team.