Feb 102013
 
Five died and three injured in the worst lifeboat tragedy of recent years

Five died and three injured in the worst lifeboat tragedy of recent years

Unacceptable levels of deaths and injuries during lifeboat drills have again been highlighted with the loss of five lives during a drill aboard the Malta-registered Thomson Majesty cruise ship in the Canaries. Three others were injured, two of them severely, when the davit-launched lifeboat fell while being recovered from the water towards the end of the drill.

Leading maritime website gCaptain says that early reports indicate that the lifeboat fell approximately 65 feet to the water, landing upside down, and killing the five and injuring three others aboard. Those killed are believed to be three Indonesians, a Filipino and a Ghanaian, Reuters has reported. None of the 1,498 passengers on board at the time were involved.

A photograph published on the BBC News website from a passenger taken shortly after the tragedy shows an apparently-parted fall wire. While investigations are far from complete this is a common phenomenon when a hook fails and the lifeboat pendulums on the remaining wire causing it to snap and drop the lifeboat into the water in an inverted position.  Some reports claim that one of the boat’s on-load release hooks failed.

On average some two dozen such accidents occur, killing or injuring seafarers each year.

Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS, aimed at preventing accidents during lifeboat launching entered into force on 1 January 2013.
The amendments, adopted in May 2011, add a new paragraph 5 to SOLAS regulation III/1, to require lifeboat on-load release mechanisms not complying with new International Life-Saving Appliances, LSA, Code requirements to be replaced, no later than the first scheduled dry-docking of the ship after 1 July 2014 but, in any case, not later than 1 July 2019.
The SOLAS amendment is intended to establish new, stricter, safety standards for lifeboat release and retrieval systems, and will require the assessment and possible replacement of a large number of lifeboat release hooks.

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