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Lifeboat brake release failure

During the lowering of a Watercraft lifeboat to the sea for planned annual maintenance and test run, the brake release cable became snarled on its reel. The end of the brake cable was pulled through the top of the boat and was therefore not available for the coxswain to continue the descent, leaving the lifeboat approximately 2 metres from the water level.

The brake release cable is believed to have been rove onto the drum in manner whereby the turns of the cable have become tangled, this is suspected to have occurred during a previous falls rope change out.

The following recommendations were made as a result of this incident:

  • Procedures for rope change out and brake release function should be reviewed to ensure that brake drum cables are correctly positioned on the reels when returned to the falls position;
  • All procedures involving winches should be reviewed to address the issue of ‘reeling in’.

Safety Event

Published: 1 January 1999
Download: IMCA SF 02/99

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