New Lifeboat Release Mechanism Improves Maritime Safety

A new lifeboat release hook mechanism has been introduced by Survival Craft Inspectorate Ltd to improve the safety of seafarers. It is available for new or retrofit installations and a number of leading ship and offshore platform operators have already begun installing this equipment. The new SAFELAUNCH mechanism has been developed by the Aberdeen-based company following a detailed study of existing lifeboat release systems that identified potential shortcomings in the safety of their design.

The Survival Craft study identified three key areas for improvement. These included reducing the potential for accidental release, providing a visual indication of the release mechanism's security status and eliminating the use of any materials that could be vulnerable to corrosion.

The study has resulted in the SAFELAUNCH System which incorporates an improved release cam mechanism which provides superior contact between engaged components. The design is believed to be more robust and less vulnerable to critical tolerances, misuse or neglect and is believed to introduce the single biggest contribution to lifeboat safety for many years.

Each SAFELAUNCH release hook is provided with a color-coded indicator that provides a clear visual status of the release cam. This enables crewmembers and maintenance personnel to verify that the hooks are secure and in a safe condition before anyone enters the boat. The high visibility indicator is linked to the main release mechanism and moves from green to red to provide an unambiguous signal when the boat is ready to be launched. Because this is clearly visible from outside the boat, crewmembers and maintenance personnel avoid the risks associated with boarding lifeboats whose release mechanisms may have become dangerous with time.

The indicator and release cam mechanism is protected by a transparent cover that provides additional security against physical damage and the effects of long term exposure to weather in the most extreme marine environments. The mechanism is manufactured entirely from high-grade stainless steel and materials that remain unaffected by corrosion throughout a lifetime of exposure to severe maritime conditions. They consequently eliminate any need for painting and risks to the system's functionality that might subsequently arise.

Another significant innovation from Survival Craft is the introduction of a through hook locking pin that guarantees positive safety during maintenance and boarding drills. The green coded safety pins are typically kept in the care of the ship or platform's central control room and issued to crew or maintenance personnel in accordance with their relative permit to work process. Once the locking pin has been inserted the hook cannot be released regardless of what happens to the mechanism. With a safe working load up to 6 tons, SAFELAUNCH is approved by Det Norske Veritas and meets all relevant SOLAS, IMO, LSA and EU mark design codes. The release mechanism can be provided for new buildings or for retrofit as a direct replacement for an existing mechanism. With the use of high-grade materials and standards of precision engineering, Survival Craft Inspectorate believes that its new product represents a valid investment in operational safety.

The design for the new SAFELAUNCH system incorporates the experience and expertise gained by Survival Craft Inspectorate operating for many years as one of the world's leaders in maritime safety. In addition to manufacturing a range of lifeboats and safety products, Survival Craft Inspectorate Ltd provides a complete safety maintenance service for most of the world's offshore operators and for many major shipping companies and cruise operators. The company has representatives in Stavanger, Egypt, Singapore and Houston from where it has gained unrivalled experience in the care and operation of all types of maritime safety equipment and has applied this practical expertise to the development of its new products.