What are the requirements (regulations) of life rafts as per SOLAS?

Life raft is a survival craft used for sustaining the lives of persons in distress from the time of abandoning the ship.

There are mainly two type of Life raft:

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General requirements for Liferafts
  • Every liferaft shall be so constructed as to be capable of withstanding exposure for 30 days afloat in all sea conditions.
  • The liferaft shall be so constructed that when it is dropped into the water from a height of 18 m, the liferaft and its equipment will operate satisfactorily. If the liferaft is to be stowed at a height of more than 18 m above the waterline in the lightest seagoing condition, it shall be of a type which has been satisfactorily drop-tested from at least that height.
  • The floating liferaft shall be capable of withstanding repeated jumps on to it from a height of at least 4.5 m above its floor both with and without the canopy erected.
  • The liferaft and its fittings shall be so constructed as to enable it to be towed at a speed of 3 knots in calm water when loaded with its full complement of persons and equipment.
  • when the Davit-launched liferaft is loaded with its full complement of persons and equipment, be capable of withstanding a lateral impact against the ship’s side at an impact velocity of not less than 3.5 m/s and also a drop into the water from a height of not less than 3 m without damage that will affect its function
  • The liferaft shall have a canopy to protect the occupants from exposure, which is automatically set in place, when the liferaft is launched and waterborne. It shall provide insulation against heat and cold by means of either two layers of material separated by an air gap or other equally efficient means.
  • It shall be provided with means to mount a survival craft radar transponder (SART) at a height of at least 1 m above the sea
  • The total mass of the life raft with its container and its equipment shall not become more than 180 kg.
  • The liferaft shall be fitted with an efficient painter of length equal to not less than 10 m plus the distance from the stowed position to the waterline in the lightest seagoing condition or 15 m, whichever is the greater.
  • A manually controlled lamp shall be fitted to the top of the liferaft canopy. The light shall be white and be capable of operating continuously for at least 12 h
  • Every davit-launched liferaft shall be so arranged that it can be boarded by its full complement of persons in not more than 3 min from the time the instruction to board is given.
  • The inflatable liferaft shall be capable of being inflated by one person. The liferaft shall be inflated with a non-toxic gas. Inflation shall be completed within a period of 1 mm at an ambient temperature of between 18˚C and 20˚C and within a period of 3 mm at an ambient temperature of -30˚C.
  • Breaking Strength of Painter:
    • 15 KN for more than 25 person life raft permitted to accommodate.
    • 10 KN for 9 to 24
    • 7.5 KN for any raft.

No liferaft shall be approved which has a carrying capacity of less than six persons.

About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.

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