Survival equipment on board ship

Lifebuoys :



  • Made of buoyant material.
  • Coloured brightly and are ring-shaped.
  • Placed at strategic locations.
  • Stowed to be easily cast loose.
  • Located on each side of the ship.
  • Fitted with a buoyant line.
  • Fitted with retro-reflective tapes.
  • Stencilled with the name and port of registry of the ship.
  • Provided with self-igniting lights and smoke floats.

Specifications of lifebuoy:

  • Outer diameter, not more than 800mm.
  • Inner diameter not be less than 400 mm.
  • Support capacity of 14.5 kgs of iron in freshwater for a period of 24 hours.
  • Mass of 2.5 kgs or more.
  • Fire-resistant for a period of 2 seconds.
  • Sustain a drop from varied heights above the waterline in the lightest seagoing condition or 30 metres.
  • Grabline of length not less than 4 times the outer diameter of the buoy.

Life jackets:



  • Designed to be worn by the crew or passenger before abandoning the ship.
  • Made to assist a person keep his head above the water while floating.
  • Coloured brightly.
  • Stencilled with the name of the ship and the port of registry.
  • Provided for every adult on board.
  • Provided for every child and infant onboard, equal to 10% of the crew or greater.
  • Provided for persons on watch and for use at remotely located survival craft stations.
  • Placed at accessible locations.
  • Marked with the weight or height or both and are indicated with a child or infant symbols.

The requirements of a life jacket are the following:


  • Loss of buoyancy is not more than 5% after submersion in freshwater for more than 24 hours.
  • Fitted with a whistle.
  • Fitted with a white light of luminous intensity not less than 0.75 candelas, effective for a period of at least 8 hours.
  • Infant life jacket of weight not less than 15 kgs and not more than 100 cms in height.
  • Child life jacket of weight not less than 15 kgs and not more than 43 kgs.
  • Adult life jacket of weight 43 kgs or more and height of 155 cms or more.

Immersion suits:



Designed to help reduce the loss of body heat.
Provided for every person on board a cargo ship.
Provided at places of work and in watchkeeping areas located away from the immersion suit storage area.
Stored in readily accessible and clearly marked locations.

The requirements of immersion include the following:

  • Capable of being unpacked and donned without assistance within 2 minutes
  • Fire-resistant for at least a period of 2 seconds.
  • Loss of buoyancy is not more than 5% after submersion in freshwater for more than 24 hours.
  • Cover the whole body with the exception of the face.
  • Covering for the hands and head may be provided by separate gloves and a hood, both of which shall be permanently attached to the suit.
  • Ability to sustain a jump from a height not less than 4.5 metres into the water without damaging or dislodging the immersion suit.

Thermal protective aids:

  • Designed as a suit or a bag made of waterproof material, having low thermal conductance.
  • Made of durable and insulating material.
  • Designed to cover the wearer's entire body, except for the area of the mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Coloured brightly for detection.
  • Provided with a glove that facilitates the wearer to close and open the zipper or carry out other tasks.

The requirements of thermal aids include the following:

  • Thermal conductance not to be more than 7800 W/(m²K).
  • Capable of being donned without assistance in a survival craft or rescue boat.
  • Does not hinder the swimming capability of the wearer.
  • Capable of being removed in water in not more than 2 minutes.
  • Effective in temperatures between minus 30" to plus 20".
  • Marked with the manufacturer's name and instructions for use.

GMDSS approved ships are required to carry the following as a minimum requirement:

Three portable VHF two way radiotelephones.
Two search and rescue transponders.
One EPIRB operating on 406 MHz.

  • Survivors should carry a GMDSS approved VHF two-way radiotelephone apparatus.
  • Persons leading the boat stations should carry radios along with spare batteries.
  • Nickel-cadmium batteries on the radio set can be recharged after use onboard.
  • Spare batteries made of lithium for use in case of an emergency.
  • Lithium batteries cannot be charged.

SART- Search and Rescue Transponder:



  • A Search And Rescue Transponder (SART) is stowed on a mounting bracket on each side of the bridge.
  • The SART should be carried in the survival craft.
  • The SART indicates the location of the survival craft to any ship in the immediate vicinity.
  • When the SART is switched on, it goes on to standby mode.
  • Once triggered, it can be identified by 12 blips on the radar screen.
  • When viewed from a distance within 1 nautical mile, the blips turn into concentric rings on the radar screen.
  • The detecting range of SART improves with height.
  • The SART is powered by a battery.
  • It has a test switch to check its functionality.
  • The battery has a life of about 3 to 4 years.
  • Operating and testing instructions are marked on the exterior of the SART.

EPIRB- Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon:



  • A satellite Emergency Position indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) should be carried on all sea going ships of 300 GT and over.
  • The EPIRB transmits a distress alert through a polar-orbiting satellite or by satellites operating in the geostationary INMARSAT coverage.
  • An EPIRB transmits a distress call when activated, to rescue coordination centres through local user terminals.

Line Throwing Apparatus:





  • A line throwing apparatus is specifically designed to help deploy a buoyant line from the ship to the shore or to another ship.
  • A line throwing apparatus is should be capable of throwing a line with reasonable accuracy.
  • It should have at least four projectiles and four lines.
  • Each projectile should be able to carry a line of at least 230 metres in length.
  • Each line should have a breaking strength of not less than 2 kN.
  • Operating instructions are printed on the external part of the apparatus.
  • The entire assembly is housed inside a water-resistant casing.

Signalling Equipment:

  • Pyrotechnics are a part of the ships signalling equipment.
  • They are used to attract the attention of ships in the vicinity besides helping locate survivors.
  • Pyrotechnics consists of rocket parachute flares, hand flares and buoyant smoke floats.
  • Each lifeboat and life raft should carry four rocket parachute flares, six hand flares and two buoyant smoke signals.

Rocket parachute flares:

  • The ship is also to carry 12 rocket parachute flares, which form part of the ship's distress signals.
  • Rocket parachute flares should be housed within a water-resistant container.
  • The operating instructions should be printed on the container.
  • The design of the rocket parachute flare should not cause any discomfort to the person holding it.
  • When fired vertically, the rocket should reach an altitude of at least 300 m.
  • When the rocket is at its top, it releases a parachute flare of bright red colour, with a luminous intensity of 30,000 candelas or more for at least 40 sec.
  • The rate of descent of the flare should not be more than 5 m/sec and should not cause harm to the parachute fittings.

Hand flares:



  • Hand flares should be housed within a water-resistant casing.
  • The instructions should be written on the casing.
  • The ignition of the flare should be self-contained and should not cause any discomfort to the person holding the casing and the survival craft.
  • When ignited, the hand flare should burn in a bright red colour, with a luminous intensity of 15,000 candelas or more for at least one minute.
  • It should continue to burn for 10 sec when immersed in 100 mm of water.

Buoyant smoke floats:



  • Buoyant smoke floats should be housed within a water-resistant casing.
  • The operating instructions should be written on the casing.
  • When operated, the smoke float should emit a highly visible coloured smoke for at least 3m.
  • It should not ignite explosively.
  • Smoke floats should continue to emit smoke when submerged in 100 mm of water for 10 sec.
  • It should not be swamped in a seaway.

Other signalling equipment:

  • Other signalling equipment survival crafts include one waterproof electric torch and a daylight signalling mirror.
  • The electric torch should be suitable for morse signalling.
  • It should have one set of spare batteries and one spare bulb.
  • The daylight signalling mirror should be provided with instructions on its use.
  • It should be capable of signalling to the "ships and aircraft in the vicinity.


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