Prevention of accidents involving lifeboats

Amendments to SOLAS - entry into force 1 January 2020 

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), at its 96th session held in May 2016, adopted amendments to SOLAS regulations III/3 and III/20 by resolution MSC.404(96) to make mandatory the requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear. 

This package of provisions, which entered into force on 1 January 2020, aim to prevent accidents with survival craft and addresses longstanding issues such as the need for a uniform, safe and documented standard related to the servicing of these appliances, as well as the authorization, qualification and certification requirements to ensure that a reliable service is provided.  

The adoption of the amendments and requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair represents the culmination of some ten years work on the issue. The intention is to ensure that seafarers can be confident that their safety is paramount and is reflected in the IMO mandatory life-saving appliances and equipment requirements at their disposal. 

Amendments to SOLAS - entry into force 1 July 2008

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), at its 82nd session held from 29 November to 8 December 2006, adopted an amendment to SOLAS regulation III/19.3.3.4 concerning provisions for the launch of free-fall lifeboats during abandon-ship drills. The amendment allows, during the abandon-ship drill, for the lifeboat to either be free-fall launched with only the required operating crew on board, or lowered into the water by means of the secondary means of launching without the operating crew on board, and then manoeuvred in the water by the operating crew. The aim is to prevent accidents with lifeboats occurring during abandon-ship drills. The amendment entered into force on 1 July 2008.

Amendments to SOLAS - entry into force 1 July 2006

On 1 July 2006, amendments (adopted in May 2004) to SOLAS chapter III - Life-saving appliances and arrangements entered into force. They are intended to help prevent accidents with lifeboats during drills. They stemmed from work by the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) intended to address the unacceptably high number of accidents with lifeboats in which crew have been injured, sometimes fatally, while participating in lifeboat drills and/or inspections.

The amendments to SOLAS regulations III/19 - Emergency training and drills and III/20 Operational readiness, maintenance and inspections concern the conditions in which lifeboat emergency training and drills should be conducted and introduce changes to the operational requirements for maintenance, weekly and monthly inspections so as not to require any persons to be on board, and servicing of launching appliances and on-load release gear.