Lifeboat drill safety


Published: 30 June 2014

The Association has had reference to ATSB Report 37-MO-2014-002 when preparing this advisory.

The situation

Lifeboat drills have presented and continue to present challenges and risks, which need to be understood and appropriately managed.

Regrettably seafarers continue to face the risk of injury and fatality as a consequence of problems arising from lifeboat release mechanisms and drills.

ATSB investigation

The ATSB report 37-MO-2014-002 details a situation where a free fall lifeboat was inadvertently released during a routine inspection. A crewman was seriously injured during this incident.

The preliminary ATSB report considers that the release mechanism was "not fully and correctly reset after it was last exercised". This lead to the crewman releasing the lifeboat unintentionally and furthermore two simulation wires were found to fail below their safe working load.

Loss prevention advice

The ATSB investigation in to this matter continues, but it is important for vessels to continue to pay close attention to lifeboat drill safety ensuring that:

  1. lifeboat release mechanisms are properly checked and maintained
  2. crew have been trained in and understand the operation of the mechanism on the vessel they are serving on
  3. any maintenance or activity in relation to the lifeboat and its mechanism is undertaken in conformity with SOLAS and the vessel's SMS
  4. having a working model of the lifeboat system on board, which crew can use for training purposes

If any concerns arise with respect to the safety of any planned maintenance or drill, it will be prudent to stop and take stock of the situation rather than to proceed in circumstances where the continued safety of the activity can no longer be assured.

Loss prevention materials

The Association has previously advised members with respect to safety and lifeboat drills.

Further, the Association has published a book on lifeboat release hooks.