New Generation Lifeboat Hook Training is Essential
When new equipment of any kind is installed on a ship a prudent ship owner would take the necessary steps to train their crew in its proper use. In the case of the new generation lifeboat hooks where do we look for such training guidance.
SOLAS III/1.5, which entered into force on 1 January 2013, requires all ships, regardless of build date, to replace non-IMO compliant lifeboat hooks with new generation hooks meeting the latest standard no later than 1 July 2019.
As for lifeboat hook training guidance SOLAS III/3 defines a certificated lifeboatman as “a person who holds a certificate of proficiency in survival craft issued in accordance with the requirements of the STCW Code”. 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 new generation lifeboat hooks fitted on each lifeboat.
After working with new hook systems, I see many areas that warrant an emphasis in training, one of which is how to properly use the Fall Prevention Device (FPD). A FPD usually is in the form of a pin that is inserted into the cheeks of the lifting hook assembly and through the hook tail. When inserted, the hook is “pinned” in place and protects the crew from an accidental release. It is critical for the crew to understand that the FPD is only to be used during drills. In drilling scenarios, the FPD is inserted when the boat is made ready for launch and removed when the boat is lowered to about a meter above the water. Then prior to the lifeboat recovery the FPD is reinserted and removed at the end of the drill.
Northwest Maritime Academy has proactively taken the necessary steps to fill this serious training gap. NWMA’s motor enclosed lifeboat has been retrofitted with a new generation hook and release system to comply with SOLAS III/1.5.
NWMA Lifeboat trainees receive critical training in the proper use of:
- The Hydrostatic Interlock Unit
- The Central Release Unit
- Fall Preventer Devices
Captain Patrick Boyle, the principal NWMA instructor, believes that proper training and practice builds confidence in lifeboat crews and is the key to a safer ship.
For more about lifeboats see our other post: https://northwestmaritimeacademy.com/proficiency-survival-craft-course-fostering-leadership-open-seas/