Rescue boat requirements on merchant ship. A rescue boat is a small craft that can be used to rescue persons from the water, marshal life rafts, or tow life rafts to a safe place. Rescue boats are essential for the safety of life at sea and are required by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, as amended.
Rescue boat requirements on merchant ship
According to SOLAS Chapter III, regulation 21, passenger ships of 500 gross tonnage and over shall carry at least one rescue boat on each side of the ship, and passenger ships of less than 500 gross tonnage shall carry at least one rescue boat. Cargo ships shall also carry at least one rescue boat. A lifeboat may be accepted as a rescue boat, provided that it also complies with the requirements for a rescue boat.
The requirements for rescue boats are specified in Chapter V, section 5.1 of the International Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code, which is mandatory under SOLAS. Rescue boats may be either of rigid or inflated construction or a combination of both and shall:
– be not less than 3.8 m and not more than 8.5 m in length; and
– be capable of carrying at least five seated persons and a person lying on a stretcher.
Rescue boats shall also have the following features:
– They shall be capable of maneuvering at a speed of at least 6 knots and maintaining that speed for a period of at least 4 hours.
– They shall have sufficient mobility and maneuverability in a seaway to enable persons to be retrieved from the water, marshal life rafts and tow the largest life raft carried on the ship when loaded with its full complement of persons and equipment or its equivalent at a speed of at least 2 knots.
– They shall be fitted with an inboard engine or outboard motor. If they are fitted with an outboard motor, the rudder and tiller may form part of the engine.
– They shall have arrangements for towing that are permanently fitted and sufficiently strong to marshal or tow life rafts.
– They shall be provided with effective means of bailing or automatically self-bailing.
– They shall be provided with small watertight stowage for small items of equipment.
Inflated rescue boats shall also meet some additional requirements, such as:
– They shall be capable of withstanding exposure when stowed on an open deck on a ship at sea for 30 days afloat in all sea conditions.
– The buoyancy of an inflated rescue boat shall be provided by either a single tube subdivided into at least five separate compartments of approximately equal volume or two separate tubes neither exceeding 60% of the total volume.
– They shall be marked with a serial number, the maker’s name or trade mark and the date of manufacture.
– They shall be maintained at all times in a fully inflated condition.
Rescue boats are subject to regular surveys and inspections to ensure that they are in good condition and ready for use in case of emergency. The surveys and inspections are carried out by the flag State administration or by recognized organizations on their behalf. The certificates issued after the surveys and inspections serve as proof that the rescue boats comply with the requirements of SOLAS and LSA Code.