Two incidents relating to life-rafts/life boats

Incident 1: Life-Raft Inadvertently Deployed

During monthly inspection of the life-raft, the port side life-raft was accidentally released into the water and activated.  The incident was reported to the bridge, vessel made a MOB manoeuvre and crew were mustered.  FRC was lowered to retrieve the life-raft, which was recovered without incident.

What went wrong?

The second mate was doing the monthly inspection of the life-raft.  He inspected how to release the life-raft and checked if it was lashed properly.  In doing so he accidentally opened up the clip that launched the life-raft into the water, and because the painter line was still connected, the life-raft was activated.

The second mate was inexperienced with this type of release system and on his first job on this kind of vessel, made his first contract on this type vessel.

What actions were taken?  What lessons were learnt?

  • Place an extra seal on the locking clip to prevent accidental opening when walking past or during inspection and make clear that this part must not be opened unless in an emergency. NB: such a seal must still be easy to break during emergencies;
  • Improve familiarising and training of crew;
  • Encourage crew to ask for advice from someone who is more familiar with vessel systems.

Incident 2: Lifeboat Davit Failed During Test Deployment

A vessel was at anchor in a quiet bay and the suggestion was made to take out both lifeboats for tests.  Whilst the port side boat was being lowered, with crew inside, a hydraulic part failed, and the forward davit arm fell down to the horizontal.  The chief mate (operating the levers) continued to deploy the lifeboat to water, calling down not to release the hooks yet.  Crew inside the lifeboat noticed something was wrong because during lowering, the lifeboat tipped bow down by approx. 0.5m.  There were no injuries.

The lifeboat was recovered using the forward crane and stored on deck as a quick repair was not possible.

What went wrong?

Investigation revealed that there was a damaged/worn thread and broken bearing in the davit hydraulic equipment.

What actions were taken?

  • Cleaned articulated bearing, found thread inside worn and rusted, bearing cracked and a piece broke off. All other similar articulated bearings checked to see if they also needed to be replaced.;
  • Temporary fix arranged to ensure that the davit arm cannot move further than normal lowering position.