1.1. This Notice consolidates Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) Information Bulletin Nos. 72 (Lifeboat Safety), 100 (Fall Wires), and 117 (Fall Preventer Devices).
1.2. This Notice provides the BMA’s position on the safety of lifeboats required under Chapter III of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (SOLAS Chapter III).
2.1. This Notice applies to:
i. All ships fitted with survival craft launching appliances as referred to in Regulation 20.11.1 of SOLAS Chapter III.
ii. All ships’ lifeboats and rescue boats fitted with on-load release gear as referred to in Regulation 20.11.2 of SOLAS Chapter III;
iii. All ships’ davit launched liferaft automatic release hooks as referred to in Regulation 20.11.3 of SOLAS Chapter III.
3.1. The issue of lifeboat safety has been the focus of considerable efforts over several years at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). A large amount of information has been issued to assist Companies1 in enhancing safety when conducting abandon ship drills with lifeboats.
3.2. In addition, amendments have been made to SOLAS Chapter III to improve lifeboat safety (e.g. new Regulation 1.5 of SOLAS Chapter III, which entered into force on 01 January 2013 and amendments to Regulation 20 of SOLAS Chapter III, which entered into force on 01 January 2020).
Important factors for lifeboat safety
4.1. Important factors to enhance the safety of lifeboats and release hooks include:
i. maintenance and inspections must be carried out by a competent person to procedures that reflect the manufacturers’ instructions;
ii. maintenance and inspections must be recorded to provide objective evidence that these have been carried out according to the manufacturer’s instructions;
iii. the quality of crew training and familiarization are directly affected by the frequency and quality of the drills carried out;
iv. planning is essential to ensure drills are performed safely;
v. drills should be realistic but must not be hurried when familiarization or other training is taking place;
vi. a crew debrief after each drill is essential to emphasize lessons learned or to give additional training where necessary.
4.2. In view of the need to safely verify satisfactory operation of lifeboat launching equipment that is not in frequent use, it is recommended that, where possible, lifeboats are initially lowered and recovered without any crew on board during drills.
4.3. The guidelines for simulated launching of free fall lifeboats contained in the appendix to IMO Circular MSC.1/Circ.1578 should be brought to the attention of the ship’s crew, where applicable, to ensure crew familiarization with limited risk. However, manufacturer’s instructions take precedence over the generic procedure contained in that circular.
4.4. Careful observation of the lifeboat during every recovery operation should be made, in particular when near the davit heads as the boat may swing on a short pendulum during the later stages of recovery. This may happen when the speed of the winch is slowed or the boat is run out in order to ensure proper return to the davits or run out to the embarkation position after an empty deployment, such as referred to in paragraph 4.2 above.