The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) shared recommendations after a fatal incident during a drill on a floating offshore facility, when a lifeboat and personnel fell about 75 feet (23 meters) to the water.
Although the investigation into this incident’s causal factors is still in progress, the US Coast Guard (USCG) has earlier identified a potential hidden failure with hook release cable connectors.
RMI concurs with the USCG recommendations and, through its new Marine Safety Advisory No. 22-19, encourages shipowners, operators, and Masters to:
- conduct thorough inspections of control cables between the release handle station and release hooks, and any other similar cables communicating between the release station and the hydrostatic interlock, if installed, looking for current damage and for potential hazards or other conditions that might compromise the cables in the future;
- replace cables that show signs of wear or damage to any layers;
- implement an inspection regime that allows for cable damage to be identified and, as necessary, for cables to be replaced in a timely manner;
- review the lifeboat and release mechanism operations manuals prior to conducting launch and recovery drills; and
- use safety pins during drills to prevent the hook-locking shaft from rotating, when they are approved as part of the release mechanism; and remove them after training or maintenance to ensure that lifeboats are stowed in the “ready to launch” condition.
The RMI Marine Notice 2-011-37, Life Saving Appliances and Systems contains the RMI requirements for on-load release hooks on lifeboats:
- Ships must be fitted with LSA Code-compliant lifeboat on-load release mechanisms as required by SOLAS III/1.5, taking into consideration MSC.1/Circ. 1392 and Corr.1.
- When applying LSA Code paragraph 220.127.116.11 on fitting release mechanisms, MSC.1/Circ.1419 must be considered.
- When selecting new or replacement lifeboat on-load release hooks, the Administrator advises ship owners or operators to select designs incorporating a permanent secondary safety system5 . Where a new or replacement lifeboat onload release hook incorporating a permanent secondary safety system cannot be obtained, ship owners/operators may select fail safe and innovative hook designs with characteristics that ensure the system cannot be released unintentionally or by the force of gravity. Where fall preventer devices are used, they must be done so in accordance with MSC.1/Circ. 1392 and Corr.1.
- Ship’s Masters must ensure that when a lifeboat on-load release hook with a secondary safety system is fitted, this is used during all drills (both launch and recovery) and when the lifeboat has crew or other personnel aboard. After the drill finishes, the secondary safety system must be removed or disengaged.