Surviving the Rough Seas: Why a Lifeboat is Your Best Bet

Aug 1, 2023 | BOAT TRANSPORT

Most people have probably seen the cinema film ‘Lifeboat’ based on a story by John Hodiak with the cast of Tallulah Bankhead and Walter Slezak, right? If not, we are here to tell you that when it comes to being out at sea, things can take a turn for the worse in an instant. Rough waters, unexpected storms, and damaged merchant vessels can all lead to disaster if not prepared for.

That’s where the lifeboat comes in. This essential piece of equipment can be the difference between life and death in dire situations. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the importance of the lifeboat and why it’s your best bet for survival.

The Lifeboat’s Purpose: The primary function of a lifeboat is to take passengers and crew away from a ship in distress. With its sturdy construction, it can hold a larger capacity and navigate rough seas, unlike a life raft. Lifeboats are also equipped with various features to help increase the chance of survival, such as a watermaker, food, and communication devices.

Stability and Durability: Lifeboats are designed with stability in mind making them much safer in rough seas. They are made of durable materials, such as fiberglass or steel, which can withstand harsh weather conditions. Additionally, their design allows them to resist capsizing, which can be crucial when faced with large waves or strong currents.

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Lifeboat on a Ferry

Rugged and Safe Construction: Lifeboats are built with a robust and safe construction, including a watertight compartment, which makes them unique from ordinary boats. They have a double bottom and strong hulls specifically designed to withstand harsh conditions. Also, lifeboats are self-righting in case they get overturned, meaning they are designed to automatically go back into their stable position once overturned.

Emergency Equipment: Lifeboats carry emergency equipment that can aid in increasing the chances of survival. The emergency equipment can range from food and water to first-aid supplies and communication devices. They also have water makers in case of extended stays, which makes seawater suitable for drinking.

Required by International Maritime Regulations: The International Maritime Organization has passed several regulations requiring ships to carry an adequate number of lifeboats based on passengers and crew capacity. This requirement ensures that passengers and crew have protection against sudden emergencies. Therefore, shipping companies must provide safe and adequate boats for evacuation purposes.

Types of Lifeboats for Different Emergency Scenarios

Rescuers on a Lifeboat

Not all lifeboats are created equal. There are several types of lifeboats, classified according to their size, capacity, and intended use. Below, we will explore the main categories of lifeboats, their features, and the scenarios they are suitable for.

Free Fall Lifeboats

The freefall lifeboat category includes compact vessels mostly used on offshore platforms, drilling rigs, and vessels like supply ships and tankers. They are designed to fall rapidly from their launch point into the water, providing a quick escape for the crew in case of emergencies. These lifeboats are made of steel or aluminum and can accommodate up to 50 people rescued. Freefall lifeboats are suitable for situations where the evacuation must be completed in a short time frame.

Davit-Launched Lifeboat

Davit-launched lifeboats are the most common type of lifesaving apparatus on board ships. They are equipped with rigid hulls, pontoons, or inflatable tubes and are launched using this system – which is a hydraulically or manually powered crane. Depending on the vessel size and regulatory requirements, a ship may have several davit launched lifeboats of varying sizes. A common feature of davit launched lifeboats is that they are enclosed, protecting the occupants from the weather elements vs other lifeboats They are ideal for emergency evacuations in calm seas and moderate to severe weather conditions.

Open Lifeboat

Also known as a simple or conventional lifeboat, the open lifeboat category includes non-rigid hull boats with a simple design. They are widely used in smaller ships and pleasure craft due to their low cost and ease of maintenance. They do not require the davit system and are launched manually using ropes or blocks and oars are often used. Open lifeboats have limited carrying capacity and offer less protection from the weather elements compared to enclosed lifeboats. They are best suited for use in protected waters and good weather conditions.

Totally Enclosed Lifeboat

Enclosed Lifeboat

As the name suggests, totally enclosed lifeboats or shore-based life boats are fully covered boats that provide maximum protection and insulation for their occupants. They are equipped with airtight doors, ventilation systems, and self-righting mechanisms that help them stay upright in case of capsizing. Totally enclosed lifeboats are launched using a davit system and can hold up to 150 people rescued. These boats are ideal for evacuations in extreme sea conditions, such as storms and hurricanes.

Hybrid Lifeboat

Hybrid lifeboats combine the features of both open and enclosed lifeboats. They are partially enclosed, allowing for better protection from the weather, while still maintaining some of the advantages of open lifeboats, such as less maintenance cost and easy access. Hybrid lifeboats are suitable for situations in moderate weather conditions.

Choosing the right type of lifeboat for a vessel depends on various factors, including the type of vessel, emergency scenario, and regulatory standards. As a ship operator or owner, it is essential to understand the features of different types of lifeboats and conduct proper training and maintenance to ensure they are ready for use in emergencies. By following the appropriate safety measures and taking into account the specific requirements, lifeboats can significantly enhance the safety of vessel occupants and protect against catastrophic events at sea. are suitable for situations where the evacuation must be completed in a short time frame and are usually on the starboard side of the ship.

How to Properly Inspect a Lifeboat

Red Lifeboat Tied to a Motorboat

One of the most important safety features on a ship is the lifeboat. In the event of an emergency where the ship may be sinking, lifeboats provide a means of escape for both crew and passengers. That being said, it’s crucial for these lifeboats to be in good working condition and inspected regularly. Let’s take a deep dive into the steps needed to properly inspect a lifeboat.

Step 1: Check the Exterior of the Lifeboat

Inspect the exterior of the lifeboat for any visible damage such as cracks or holes. Also, check the integrity of the hull and ensure that it is watertight. Look for any damage to the handrails, grab lines or ladders. Lastly, check that the hatch covers are secured properly and seal tightly.

Step 2: Inspect the Launching System

The launching system of the lifeboat is very important to its overall functionality. Check the release mechanism and the gripes that hold the boat on the davits or cradles. Make sure that the lifeboat can be lowered smoothly into the water and that the release mechanism is properly secured.

Step 3: Check the Condition of the Engines

For motorized lifeboats, make sure that the engines are in good condition. Check for any leaks, corrosion or damage to the fuel lines and fittings. Inspect the transmission, propeller, and steering gear. Check that the fuel and oil levels are correct

Step 4: Check the Lifesaving Equipment and Supplies

Make sure that the lifeboat is equipped with all the necessary lifesaving equipment and supplies. Check the proper number and type of life jackets, compasses, flares, first aid kits, flashlights, and communication equipment. Also, ensure that the food and water supply is intact.

Step 5: Review the Life Raft Capacity

Lifeboats should have enough life rafts to accommodate all passengers and crew. Suppose a lifeboat’s raft capacity is less than required or expired. In that case, the vessel is automatically noncompliant with safety regulations. Make sure that the life rafts are secured correctly and inflate properly.

Step 6: Conduct a Load Test

A load test is a crucial step in properly inspecting a lifeboat. This test is done to ensure that the lifeboat can hold its maximum weight capacity. During the test, all personnel assigned to the lifeboat should be present. In addition, one should attach a load of weights that matches the lifeboat’s total capacity rating.

There’s no denying that the lifeboat is a crucial piece of equipment for any crew or passengers at sea. Its stability, durability, and ruggedness characteristics, together with the essential emergency equipment it offers, make it the best choice for evacuation in case of sudden emergencies. So if you find yourself on a ship at sea, make sure to locate the nearest lifeboat. Your life and other survivors could depend on it.

Did you know that here at Interstate Haulers we can transport your lifeboat or any other boat across the nation? Call us and check out the other transport services we offer and get an instant transport quote today!

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