There are three types of lifeboats used on merchant vessels:
- Open Lifeboat: As the name suggests, the open lifeboat has no roof and is normally propelled by manual power by using hand propelled ores. Compression ignition engine may also be provided for the propulsion purpose. However, open lifeboats are becoming obsolete now because of stringent safety norms, but one may find them on older ship. The open lifeboat doesn’t help much in rain or bad weather and the possibility of water ingress in the highest.
- Closed lifeboat: Closed lifeboats are the most popular lifeboats that are used on ships, for they are enclosed which saves the crew from sea water, strong wind and rough weather. Moreover, the water tight integrity is higher in this type of lifeboat and it can also get upright on its own if toppled over by waves. Closed lifeboats are further classified as – Partially enclosed and fully enclosed lifeboats.
- Free fall life boat: Free fall lifeboat is similar to an enclosed lifeboat but the process of launching is entirely different. They are aerodynamic in nature and thus the boat can penetrate the water without damaging the body when launched from the ship. The free fall life boat is located at the aft of the ship, which provides a maximum clear area for free fall.