A milestone has been reached

2011.5.20-EURO.jpgReaders will remember from previous articles that INTERTANKO is a member of the Industry Lifeboat Group (ILG), which was instrumental in the creation of the "Proposed Guidelines for the Evaluation and Replacement of Lifeboat Release and Retrieval Systems".

At this week's meetings of the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 89), the Committee:

- approved the draft MSC circular on Guidelines for Evaluation and Replacement of Lifeboat Release and Retrieval Systems;

- adopted the modified amendments to SOLAS regulation III/1;

- approved the draft MSC circular on early application of new SOLAS regulation III/1.5;

- adopted the modified amendments to the LSA Code and decided on their application date;

- adopted the draft MSC resolution on amendments to the Revised recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances (resolution MSC.81 (70)), as amended.

INTERTANKO voiced its support for the proposed Guidelines in Plenary. However, like other members of the ILG and many Member States, INTERTANKO was of the opinion that it would be premature to close-out the lifeboat release hook topic in its entirety. The ILG has identified several elements which have not been addressed in the proposed Guidelines:

- Vibration;

- Secondary safety systems.

The ILG recognises that vibration can potentially be a major factor in the failure of lifeboat release hook systems. The ILG has been advised that there is presently no test in existence, or there are no means, to measure the effects of vibration on lifeboat hooks. Further research/study on this subject is required.

INTERTANKO is working closely with the other members of the ILG, to develop guidance to assist ship owners and operators in their selection of replacement hooks. This guidance will recommend that replacement hooks should be of a model or type that incorporates a permanent secondary safety system. This will ensure crew confidence in the safe operation of lifeboat release systems.

It should be noted that including the additional feature of a secondary safety system on new hooks (a number of such hooks are already available) involves little or no additional cost. Secondary safety systems are usually of the "pin-type".

Tanker owners/operators would be encouraged to select a hook release system with a secondary safety system which can be operated from within the confines of the lifeboat, hence preserving the fire protection afforded by the enclosed lifeboat design.

Recognising the importance of the above issues, the Committee agreed for the Sub-committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) to address these at its next session, under agenda item "Development of a new framework of requirements for life-saving appliances".

A milestone has been reached with the adoption/approval of the above Guidelines. This has been made possible by a lot of hard work from many people. However this work does not finish here. The quest for continuous improvement goes on.