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Damage to rescue boat during lowering

A member has reported an incident in which a rescue boat (FRC) was damaged as a result of it being lowered in its davit during a scheduled drill. During the process of being swung out, the FRC experienced a load imbalance causing it to list heavily on its starboard side. This resulted in the starboard load bearing rod being dislodged from the boat foundation, which in turn meant that the boat could not be lifted back up using its single arm davit. No personnel were in the boat so there were no injuries – but the FRC was damaged.

FRC listed to starboard, showing canopy parted
Showing failed starboard load bearing member

Our members’ investigation revealed the following:

  • Following the Masters instructions, crew proceeded to lower the boat up to water level;
  • The boat was swung out on the davit without removing the shipside securing chain before launching;
  • The crew continued to hoist the boat with the help of motor; the boat started tilting to port side, until the whole load of the boat came onto the starboard side supporting rod;
  • Structural integrity of the boat: pictures taken during drill reveal that the engine door was not in place on the canopy before lowering. It is important to ensure the structural integrity of the boat before launch;
  • Due to more load on the base of the starboard side supporting rod, the boat top canopy sheared off from the foundation. At that point, the Master suspended the operation.

The following lessons were learned:

  • More effective command and control should be exercised by vessel management during small boat operations, particularly launch and recovery;
  • Careful checks should be carried out by designated personnel before lowering the boat, to ensure that everything is properly prepared and ready;
  • The vessel management and crew resourcefully managed to recover the damaged boat using the provisions crane, but there was no proper Management of Change (MoC) procedure initiated, leading to the potential for a second, possibly more serious incident;

Thorough review to take place of company procedures and training for small boat operations, including preparation of video and photographic training material.

Members may wish to refer to the following incidents (search words: boat, davit):

Lifeboat drill – near casualty

Inadvertent lowering of lifeboat


Safety Event

Published: 12 May 2017
Download: IMCA SF 10/17

Relevant life-saving rules:
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