Following an investigation into skid-launched freefall lifeboats on the Kristin and Veslefrikk B offshore installations lifeboat maker Umoe Schatt-Harding has issued a warning that certain of its freefall lifeboat hooks were made of the wrong steel The error reduces the safe working load of the hook from 6 to 4, below SOLAS requirements. Investigation of another incident on Kristin showed that a lifeboat failed to launch during a test due to corrosion
Five FFH13 hooks, designed for the FF1000S, were found to have sideplates made of plain steel instead of high tensile steel. Hooks serial numbers 1003/04 to 1006/04 inclusive are affected and the company is manufacturing replacements.
Says Umoe Schatt-Harding: “This is a production mistake that has not been discovered by our Quality Control system before the hooks left our factory.”
In a second alert, following the failure of a lifeboat to launch during a drill it was discovered that the piston rod of the hydraulic release system for the FFH13 hook was stuck to the cylindre end-piece by corrosion.
Painting on the exterior of the endpiece did not provide sufficient corrosion protection. Says Umoe Schatt-Harding, “On the inside… we also see corrosion and a damaged area on the piston rod which we believe is where the rod was stuck to the end piece. To avoid this situation there should be hydraulic oil inside in the cylinder both in the high pressure side and in the low pressure side, but it seems that there has not been oil or that some water has entered the seal in the cylinder end piece”.
The company says that freefall lifeboat releases should be tested as soon as possible and that checks should be done regularly.
MAC is aware of a separate launch failure incident, involving an unknown make of lifeboat. The lifeboat had not been launched for a year, which speaks for itself.