95002 Unsafe lifeboats on-load release gear

02 Jan 1995 MARS

Unsafe Lifeboats: On-load Release Gear

Vessel fitted with enclosed lifeboats in "Miranda" davits. Found crew very badly trained and numerous defects in the lifeboats. Principal defect was both safety pins missing from release gear. Found in a bucket one week later and re-fitted. After repairs and crew training, lowered both boats into the water and dropped from a height of 30cm only, to test on-load capability. Before an order was given, one end of the port side boat was released prematurely and one end of the starboard side boat totally failed to release. Found mousing plates missing from the two release gears. I also found, by measurement, that one of the links on the launching pendant had been replaced and was too thick to enter, or be released from the hook, being 2mm oversize.

I also found that the various wire pendants which bear the weight of the boat at different times had not been surveyed or renewed for many years. The wire falls had been turned and renewed as required, but the jib pendants, launching pendants, hanging off pendants and recovery pendants (total eight per lifeboat) were of great age and in poor condition. There is no requirement for these to be surveyed or renewed.

I strongly recommend that all Safety Equipment Surveys include actual inspection of safety pins; visual check of release gear operation; notation of renewal dates of all wire pendants etc. which carry the weight of the lifeboat and a check of crew familiarity with their duties. Also boats fitted for lowering without their crew should be tested. On my ship it was not possible to lower the boats by pulling the lowering wire, due apparently to improper repairs or modifications in the past. With a "Miranda" davit, the cradle is immersed in the sea every time the boat is lowered and consequently the cradle and its wheels suffer greatly from corrosion, frozen-up wheels etc. In this instance major repairs were required.