The amendments to SOLAS regulations III/3 and III/20, introducing mandatory new requirements for the maintenance and inspection of lifeboats and rescue boats, are entering into force on 1 January 2020, to ensure safety of life-saving appliances and equipment.
The amendments were adopted during the 96th session of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 96) in May 2016 and introduce mandatory new requirements for the maintenance and inspection of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear to be carried out by ‘certified personnel’ as per Resolution MSC.402(96)).
The provisions aim to prevent accidents with survival craft and address longstanding issues, such as the need for uniform, safe and documented standards related to the servicing of these appliances.
These requirements shall apply to the following equipment:
– lifeboats (including free-fall lifeboats), rescue boats and fast rescue boats; and
– launching appliances and on-load and off-load release gear for lifeboats (including primary and secondary means of launching appliances for free-fall lifeboats), rescue boats, fast rescue boats and davit-launched liferafts.
Weekly and monthly inspections and routine maintenance of such equipment must be carried out by authorized service providers, or by shipboard personnel under the direction of a senior ship’s officer in accordance with the maintenance manual(s).
Annual thorough examinations and operational tests must be carried out by certified personnel of either the manufacturer or an authorized service provider. The service provider may be the ship operator, provided they are authorized.
Five-year thorough examination, any overhaul, overload operational tests and repairs of such equipment, must be carried out by certified personnel of either the manufacturer or an authorized service provider.
Authorized service providers are entities authorized by the flag administration in accordance with Sections 3 and 7 of Resolution MSC.402(96).
Shipowners and operators should prepare for the new requirements by updating onboard procedures and establishing an overview of authorized service providers in relevant areas prior to the requirement entering into force on 1 January 2020, advises the Gard P&I Club.