Bulletin No.: 04/1983

Date (Y-M-D): 1983-01-17

Subject: Lifesaving Equipment

1. The report

The report of the Formal Investigation into the fire aboard and abandonment of the Hudson Transport with subsequent loss of life made a number of recommendations in the following areas.

  1. Lifeboat Painters and other cordage (Recommendation No. 1)
  2. Immersion Suits carriage and stowage (Recommendation No. 2)
  3. Lifeboat Testing (Recommendation No. 4)

The above items have been duly considered by the Ship Safety Branch and as a result certain instructions have been given to Coast Guard Marine Surveyors. The following texts summarize the content of these instructions.

2. Lifeboat Painters and Other Cordage

2.1 All lifeboat painters made of natural fibre should be replaced annually. Since lifeboats contain other cordage of a similar nature, it appears inconsistent to limit this requirement to painters only.

2.2 Accordingly, effective immediately, all lifeboat painters and other lifesaving cordage of natural fibre, are to be replaced annually at the time of Annual Inspection. In this respect, it should be noted that polypropylene rope and cordage can be affected by exposure to ultra violet light, and that the resultant actinic degradation will eventually lead to the breakdown of such rope and cordage.

2.3 Consequently, polypropylene rope and cordage will no longer be accepted for use in conjunction with lifesaving appliances except where such rope is shielded from the rays of the sun, as is the case in inflatable liferafts.

3. Immersion Suit Carriage & Stowage Requirements

3.1 Increasingly the carriage of immersion suits on board ships is becoming more common and regulations will shortly be introduced requiring the carriage of these devices on certain types of ships.

3.2 In this regard, Marine Surveyors are likely to be approached by vessel owners to clarify Board policy with respect to the carriage and stowage requirements. The following information is provided for guidance in this respect.

3.3 Carriage Requirements

The standard size of immersion suit is designed to accommodate 90% of the adult population. Accordingly, on ships which are required to carry immersion suits, standard sized immersion suits are to be provided for 100% of the complement. For those persons carried on board ship whose body weight and/or height are outside the limits provided for by the standard sized suit, additional non-standard sized immersion suits shall be provided. Such suits may not be CCG approved devices but they should be manufactured by the same manufacturer and to the same standards as the approved immersion suits carried.

3.4 Stowage Requirements

It is recommended that insofar as is reasonable and practicable, on a ship to ship basis and taking into consideration the various differences in ship types and structural arrangements, immersion suits should be stowed in a suitable location, as close as possible to the embarkation stations. Standard sized suits should be stowed separately from other suits of other sizes and the stowage locations should be marked accordingly. In cases where such stowage is impracticable, the suits should be stowed to the satisfaction of a Marine Surveyor.

4. Lifeboats - Testing for Watertightness and Buoyancy

4.1 "All lifeboats are to be subjected to testing for watertightness and buoyancy at least once a year. (For practical reasons it may not be possible to test both boats at the time of the annual inspection and it should therefore be permitted to conduct such tests at other times.) "

4.2 Schedule XIV Section 2 of the Life Saving Equipment Regulations specifies the current procedures to be followed when inspecting lifeboats and their equipment. This section specifies that boats shall be lowered into the water at each inspection but also gives the Marine Surveyor the authority to waive this requirement at his discretion. In view of the recommendation mentioned above, Marine Surveyors should carefully check each boat whilst in the water to verify its watertight integrity.

4.3 Where a Surveyor exercises his discretion and waives the requirement for the boat to be lowered into the water, the owner may opt for one of the following procedures:

4.3.1 The certificate is to be short termed until such time as the other boat is lowered into the water and its watertightness verified. The period for such a short term certificate shall not exceed one month.

4.3.2 If the Surveyor considers that he can be satisfied with the watertight integrity of the boat, bearing in mind its construction, it may be tested by removing all equipment, and with the drain plugs inserted, filled with water to a level equivalent to its loaded waterline or it may be hose tested.

4.4 With respect to the buoyancy medium, the procedures specified in the Schedule are to be adhered to. In addition, the Marine Surveyor, at each annual inspection is to subject the buoyancy medium to a thorough visual inspection.

4.5 If, on the basis of such visual inspection, he has reason to suspect deterioration of the buoyancy medium, then the tests specified in paragraph 2. (f) of Schedule XIV to the Life Saving Equipment Regulations are to be conducted and the problems, if any, rectified.

Keywords:                                  Questions concerning this bulletin should be addressed to:

1. Lifesaving
2. Rope  
3. Lifeboats
Transport Canada
Marine Safety
Tower C, Place de Ville
11th Floor, 330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

To add or change your address, contact us at: marinesafety@tc.gc.ca

Owners of commercial vessels, registered and licensed, automatically receive Bulletins.