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What are the requirements of free-fall lifeboat as per SOLAS?

According to LSA Code, Chapter 3, Reg. 4.7
Apart from the general requirements of lifeboat, Additionally Free-Fall lifeboats shall comply with the following requirements:
  • The carrying capacity of a free-fall lifeboat is the number of persons that can be provided with a seat without interfering with the means of propulsion or the operation of any of the lifeboat’s equipment.
  • The width of the seat shall be at least 430 mm. Free clearance in front of the backrest shall be at least 635 mm. The backrest all extend at least 1,000 mm above the seat pan.
  • Each free-fall lifeboat shall make positive headway immediately after water entry and shall not come into contact with the ship after a free-fall launching against a trim of up to 10° and a list of up to 20° either way from the certification height when fully equipped and loaded with:
  • its full complement of persons;
  • occupants so as to cause the centre of gravity to be in the most forward position;
  • occupants so as to cause the centre of gravity to be in the most aft position;
  • its operating crew only.
  • Each free-fall lifeboat shall be of sufficient strength to withstand, when loaded with its full complement of persons and equipment, a free-fall launch from a height of at least 1.3 times the free-fall certification height.
  • Each free-fall lifeboat shall be fitted with a release system which shall:
    1. have two independent activation systems for the release mechanisms which may only be operated from inside the lifeboat and be marked in a colour that contrasts with its surroundings;
    2. be so arranged as to release the boat under any condition of loading from no load up to at least 200% of the normal load caused by the fully equipped lifeboat when loaded with the number of persons for which it is to be approved;
  • be adequately protected against accidental or premature use;
  • be designed to test the release system without launching the lifeboat;
  • be designed with a factor of safety of 6 based on the ultimate strength of the materials used.

In addition to the requirements for fully enclosed lifeboat certificate of approval for a free-fall lifeboat shall also state:

  • free-fall certification height;
  • required launching ramp length; and
  • launching ramp angle for the free-fall certification height

PANCHAM KUMAR