Lifeboat is one of the most important life-saving equipment onboard a ship, which is used at the time of extreme emergencies for abandoning a ship. Lifeboat is a smaller rigid vessel, secured onboard into davits so that it can be launched over the side of the ship with least time and mechanical assistance possible for an early escape of the crew from the ship.
A lifeboat must carry all the types of equipment described under SOLAS and LSA codes, which are passed for the survival at sea. This includes rations, freshwater, first aid, compass, distress signalling equipment like rocket etc. A ship must carry one rescue boat for the rescuing purpose, along with other lifeboats. One of the lifeboats can be designated as a rescue boat if more than two or more lifeboats are present onboard a ship.
Types of Lifeboat
There are three types of lifeboats used on merchant vessels:
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 an older ship.
The open lifeboat doesn’t help much in rain or bad weather and the possibility of water ingress in the highest.
Closed lifeboats are the most popular lifeboats that are used on ships, for they are enclosed which saves the crew from seawater, strong wind and rough weather. Moreover, the watertight 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 lifeboat
Freefall 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 lifeboat is located at the aft of the ship, which provides a maximum clear area for free fall.
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