SOLAS regulations/requirements of Lifeboat on ship

red lifeboat aboard a white ship on sea
Photo by George Piskov on

Lifeboat on ships are necessary last resort for those on board in case of emergency and over the years many have been grateful that they were provided.

Lifeboats are basically small boats that are kept aboard a ship to carry out emergency abandonment, in case of mishaps such as man overboard, ship accidents, etc. occur.

According to the LSA codes and SOLAS, there is a set of requirements that ensure the safety on a lifeboat.

The SOLAS regulations/requirements of Lifeboat are:

  1. All lifeboats shall be of sufficient strength to:
    • Enable them to safely launch when fully loaded with their full complement of person and equipment.
    • Be capable of launched and towed when a ship is making headway at a speed of 5 knots in calm water.
  2. Except for free fall, each other lifeboat to be launched by falls shall be of sufficient strength to withstand when loaded with its full complement of person and equipment and with applicable skates or fenders in position, a lateral impact against ship side at an impact velocity of atleast 3.5m/sec and also a drop into water from a height of atleast 3 mtrs
  3. The size, number and the capacity of the lifeboat for a merchant vessel is decided by the type of the ship and number of ship’s crew, but it the number of lifeboats and liferaf s should be enough to accommodate at least 125% of the number of passengers and crew and should not be less than 7.3 m in length and minimum two lifeboats are provided on both side of the ship (port and starboard).
  4. The requirement for lifeboat of a cargo ship with 20,000 GT is that the boat must be capable of launching when the ship is heading with a speed of 5 knots.
  5. The ship must carry one rescue boat for rescue purpose along with other lifeboats. One lifeboat can be designated as a rescue boat if more then one lifeboat is present onboard ship.
  6. The gravity davits must be hold and slide down the lifeboat even when the ship is heeled to an angle of 15 degree on either side. Ropes are used to hold the lifeboat in stowed position with cradle. These ropes are called gripes.
  7. The wires which lift or lower the lifeboat are known as falls and the speed of the lifeboat descent should not be more then 36m/ min which is controlled by means of centrifugal brakes.
  8. The hoisting time for the boat launching appliance should not be less than 0.3 m/sec with the boat loaded to its full capacity.
  9. The Lifeboat must be painted in international bright orange colour with the ship’s call sign printed on it.
  10. A fully loaded lifeboat in calm water has an engine speed of atleast 6 knots and at least 2 knots when towing a 25-person life-raft and enough fuel for 24 hours.

It is clear that they are the most basic and mandated safety equipment. From ensuring physical safety to guaranteeing the mental well-being of seafarers, they are etched into the marine safety culture. 


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