Life rafts are an important safety requirement on ships. In their absence, marine fatalities could occur which otherwise could have been prevented. Ships, large boats, and other marine vessels incorporate the usage of life rafts, making them indispensable in the nature of marine vessel operations.
Like any equipment, even life rafts require periodic servicing and maintenance. The reasons for life raft repairing and their maintenance can be enumerated as follows:
- Constant usage during drills or previous emergencies can render the life raft weather worn which could cause problems at the time of emergencies.
- The inflation system of the raft could have problems and the lack of the same could pose problems during exigency situations.
- There are a few necessary instrumentations that are stored in the life rafts for using as and when the situation arises. The lack of workability of these equipments necessitates life raft servicing.
Life raft repair services do not just mean repairing and servicing the rafts. They include proper prior inspection and monitoring carried out by qualified technicians. Generally, the inspection of the rafts for any problems or damage is prescribed to be carried annually. A regular yearly monitoring of the life raft ensures longevity of its usage for a considerable span of time.
However, the professionals in-charge of the life raft maintenance operations need to possess a few requirements that would certify them to be proficient to carry out the required maintenance work. These requirements can be specified as follows:
- The technicians need to have a certification allowing them to carry out the repairing operation. The validity of the aforesaid certificate however, is only for a period of three years. Therefore it becomes a primary requirement to ensure that a technician’s certification of life raft servicing is valid for the current time period.
- The service centre needs to be as per the appropriate marine industry standards. The absence of a certified service centre would make the repairing services redundant and cause a person to incur further damages and problems.
- The service centre for life rafts needs to be chosen as per the stipulations of the authority sanctioning the usage of the rafts. In case of any discrepancy between the raft sanctioning body and the life rafts servicing centres, there could be unwanted problems for a person getting the necessary repairs carried out.
- Thorough inspection of the external case of the life raft is carried out followed an equally thorough inspection of the raft
- The inflation of the raft with respect to pressure, its maximum inflation capacity, the toughness of the raft material and the stitches is thoroughly monitored and recorded
- Instrumentations and gadgets stored in the raft are monitored for their date of expiry. A very important gadget necessitating a careful and meticulous monitoring is the cylinders used for the purpose of the raft-inflating gas.
- Following the completion of the monitoring, the technicians have to follow the standard protocol while re-folding the life rafts. The prescribed protocols differ as per the requirements of the makers of the rafts and a strict adhering to the re-folding aspect needs to be maintained.
- Rafts as per USCG and SOLAS standards mandatorily require a ten-yearly servicing inspection a few specific areas that raft owners need to comply with. In addition to these servicing requirements, the owners of USCG and SOLAS standard rafts also need to carry out a five-yearly servicing inspection for the overall system of gas inflation of the rafts.
- Following the completion of the life raft repair services, the required certifications are issued to the owners while records of the monitoring carried are meticulously maintained. These processes ensure a complete transparency in the procedure, which helps to avoid complications.
There are many authentic and established service centres where life raft repair services are carried out. These service centres state their standards of carrying out the life raft repairing operations leaving no doubt about their authenticity to a person. This enables opting for these service centres an easy choice to make.