Check the senhouse slips on your liferafts once a month says Marine Safety Forum following an incident in which a liferaft accidentally launched from a North Sea PSV while the vessel was under way.
The life-raft was subsequently inflated by the painter as it streamed down the side of the vessel and had to be recovered.
The failure occurred at the weld connecting one of the eyes to the round bar. The part that failed showed signs of surface rust but did not show outward signs of corrosion.
Says MSF: “All vessels are recommended to check their securing arrangements of life rafts and replace all senhouse slips that show signs of any deterioration. Checking of life raft senhouse slips should also be made part of the life-raft maintenance and entered into the Planned Maintenance System as a monthly check.”
The suggestion should be taken seriously. In 2004 the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch said: “the MAIB commissioned a survey of the lashing arrangements for liferafts on board a number of fishing boats docked in one of the busiest UK fishing ports. The results of the survey revealed that almost one third of the senhouse-slip release arrangements that were inspected could not be easily released to allow rapid deployment of the liferaft.
“Whilst the foregoing problem was found to exist on fishing vessels, it should be noted that many merchant and pleasure vessels use senhouse-slip quick release arrangements to secure liferafts. It is therefore highly likely that these types of vessel may experience difficulty when attempting to manually release liferafts in an emergency”.
One of the investigators noted: “”Some of the most rusty horrible senhouse-slips actually were quite easy to remove whilst other modern stainless ones proved difficult or impossible to remove….”
The UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency says that as many as one in five merchant and fishing vessels have incorrectly stowed liferafts that might not work in an emergency.