Apr 062011
 

Last week’s IMO sub-committee on ship design and equipment, DE 55, held at the International Maritime Organization’s Headquarters in London appears to have seen so uncharateristic forward motion on the issue of lifboat hooks, according o a report from BIMCO.

DE deals with life saving appliances, Polar Code, noise onboard ships, coating and corrosion protection, steel structures and pollution prevention. DE will be reporting to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).

Says the BIMCO report regarding efforts to make lifeboats safer for seafarers: “At MSC 88 held in November 2010, BIMCO, amongst all other relevant shipping industry organisations, expressed severe concern about limiting the design review assessment of lifeboat release mechanisms only to focus on wear rates, as other factors contributing to release mechanism failures might not be sufficiently considered. The concern expressed by industry led IMO to reconvene an inter-sessional working group that met prior to DE 55.

Together with member states and NGO’s, BIMCO co-sponsored two submissions for the intersessional on this subject. The first paper proposed mandatory use of fall preventer devices (FPDs) to prevent life threatening accidents in davit launched lifeboats fitted with on-load release hooks. The second industry paper proposed amendments to the draft Guidelines and amendments to paragraphs 4.4.7.6 of the LSA Code, applying a goal-based functional approach, together with consequential amendments to the draft new SOLAS regulation III/1.5. The paper reflected that the core elements for a safe release mechanism should be based on sound and competent design and that the means such as design review and hook testing, should be sufficiently addressed.

After a lively debate the following was agreed by DE 55 to be sent to MSC 89 for approval:

1. Amendments to the international Life Savings Appliances Code encompass (paragraphs 4.4.7.6.4 to 4.4.7.6.6), which include inter alia:

• The on load release mechanism shall only open when the release mechanism is operated with the boat fully waterborne or, if the boat is not waterborne, by multiple, deliberate and sustained action which shall include the removal or bypassing of safety interlocks designed to prevent premature or inadvertent release;
• the mechanism shall not be able to open due to wear, misalignment and unintended force within the hook assembly or operating mechanism, control rods or cables as may be connected to, or form part of the hook assembly and with trim of up to 10º and a list of up to 20º either way;
• to provide hook stability, the release mechanism shall be designed so that, when it is fully reset in the closed position, the weight of the lifeboat does not cause any force to be transmitted to the operating mechanism;
• locking devices shall be designed so that they cannot turn to open due to forces from the hook load;
• if a hydrostatic interlock is provided, it shall automatically reset upon lifting the boat from the water.

2. A proposal to amend SOLAS regulation III/1.5, which will require extra safety arrangements aiming to prevent unintended releases of on load release hooks for all ships, not later than the first scheduled dry-docking after a date that is to be agreed at MSC. If a lifeboat on-load release mechanism is not complying with paragraphs 4.4.7.6.4 to 4.4.7.6.6 of the LSA Code, it shall be replaced with equipment that complies with the Code.

3. Draft guidelines for evaluation and replacement of lifeboat release and retrieval systems. It is here recommended that each ship should use fall preventer devices in accordance with the Guidelines for the fitting and use of fall preventer devices (FPDs) (MSC.1/Circ.1327) until the system is:

• found compliant to the revised LSA Code; or
• modified and found compliant to the revised LSA Code; or
• found compliant to paragraphs 4.4.7.6.4 to 4.4.7.6.6 of the revised LSA Code; or
• modified and found compliant to paragraphs 4.4.7.6.4 to 4.4.7.6.6; or
• replaced by a new lifeboat release and retrieval system.

In considering matters related to the draft amendments to chapter IV of the LSA Code, DE 55 noted that the group had agreed that it would be beneficial to develop a vibration test, in order to enable objective evaluation of compliance with the requirements mentioned above. It was found difficult to develop such a test procedure at this stage, due to a lack of records of accidents caused by failure resulting from vibration. This matter will be reserved for future consideration”.

BIMCO DE55

See also:

Lifeboat Safety Survey

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