PSCRB Lifeboat Training Seattle

Can Your Crew Pass The Lifeboat Test?

Captain Patrick Boyle PSCRB 2 Comments


Resolution MSC 317 (89) which introduces new requirements under SOLAS regulation III/1.5 for lifeboat release and retrieval systems took effect on July 1 2014. The requirements apply to on-load mechanisms installed on all ships globally. The required actions must be completed no later than the first scheduled dry-docking after 1 July 2014, but in any case before 1 July 2019.

While the replacement of non-compliant on-load release hooks in conventional lifeboats is now well underway, there seems to be some confusion regarding the use of this new hook design.  For example how does the survival craft crew gain and demonstrate proficiency in the proper use of the Fall Prevention Device FPD that is incorporated into every new hook.

A “Fall Preventer Device” (FPD) can be used to minimize the risk of injury or death by providing a secondary alternate load path in the event of failure of the on load hook or its release mechanism or of accidental release of the on load hook.

The most common FPD is a locking pin that blocks the rotation of a release hook and thus its release from the fall.

Let me give you a quick test. The answer you choose may determine if your lifeboat crew survives or not.

QUESTION:  The lifeboat fall preventer device should be firmly in place at all times to function as designed to prevent an accidental release of the on-load hook.  If the FPD is a pin it should be inserted through the hook tail. If the FPD is a strop is should be attached with shackles above and below the hook bypassing the release mechanism

  • TrueLifeboat Training Seattle PSCRB
  • False

While you’re thinking about the answer this is a reference from MSC.1/Circ.1327 which states that:

.5 strict procedures, including a warning notice at the release handle, should be in place to ensure that the locking pin is removed before the release mechanism is activated.

.9 Where provided, fall preventer locking pins should not be used for any other purpose and should be fitted to the lifeboat at all times.

Let’s examine .5 above.  It states that a warning should be placed next to the release handle to make sure that the pin is removed before releasing the hooks.  What happens then if the hooks are released before removing the pin? – The load is transferred from the cam to the pin.  The pin will now be more difficult to remove because there is a load on it.

Look at the diagram left (FIG 1) showing a side profile of the hook body with the inserted FPD pin. Notice that the pin is secured on the opposite side with a keeper.  So it’s not just a matter of pulling the pin, the keeper needs to be removed also.

Look again at the FPD strap. Notice that it has two shackles connecting it. If the lifeboat is pitching in rough seas it may be difficult for a mariner to have his head shoulders and arms outside the lifeboat dodging the heavy steel block while attempting to undue a shackle.

The use of FPDs will save lives but they can also introduce additional operational risks, and it is important that the ship’s operating crew is familiar with when to use them and when not to use them.  I believe the correct answer to the above question is false.  The FPDs should only be inserted and used for drills. Otherwise the FPD pin should be removed as the lifeboat must be 100% ready to be deployed for rapid ship abandonment.

How to properly use FPDs then becomes a training issue.  It is a requirement under SOLAS Reg.III/10 that: “A deck officer or certificated person shall be placed in charge of each survival craft to be used”. However, the STCW Code sets out only the minimum standards required for the training of crew by stating that certificated personnel must have knowledge of survival crafts and their launching appliances. There is no mention of any training requirements related to the new generation of release and retrieval systems fitted on each lifeboat. It is also a fact that some training institutions use older second hand boats. Many mariners are even trained in open lifeboats with off-load release hooks – a type of boat/hook that is only permitted used in ships built before 1 July 1986.

To address the critical training issue of how and when to use a lifeboat Fall Prevention Device, Northwest Maritime Academy has built a full scale lifeboat davit and installed new generation release and retrieval hooks  manufactured by Mad Rock into their 40 person modern motor enclosed lifeboat. NWMA is the only maritime school in the United States that is training to this new standard.

Upon successfully completing the PSCRB course at Northwest Maritime Academy the mariner will receive a “Certificate of proficiency in survival craft, rescue boats and fast rescue boats” that will be evidence that he or she has demonstrated sufficient competence and knowledge enabling him or her to, in general terms, operate the new generation release and retrieval gear mandated by Resolution MSC 317 (89) under SOLAS regulation III/1.

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Comments 2

  1. Good day,

    A Fall Preventer Device should be removed when the lifeboat is 1 meter above the water. Can we remove FPDs when the lifeboat is already in water?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards,


    1. Post

      Hi Antun,

      You could remove the FPD when the lifeboat is in the water but the motion of the lifeboat when afloat causes the blocks and lifting ring assembly to swing a bit and there is potential for crew members to get be injured. If you remove the FPD a meter above the water there is less chance of crewmen being injured.

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