Safety alert: Fast rescue boat launching appliance ‘wave compensator’ devices. Applicabilty: All owners and operators of new and existing ships.
IMO Resolution MSC.218(82) introduced requirements for new fast rescue boat launching appliances, which entered into force on July 1, 2008. One of the new requirements was that fast rescue boat launching appliances be fitted with a ‘wave compensator’ device. These are automatic high-speed tensioning devices which prevent the davit wire from going slack when launching fast rescue boats in adverse sea state conditions.
In 2010 there was an incident on board a cargo ship, in which several crew members sustained serious injuries when trying to launch a fast rescue boat. The injured personnel were crewing the fast rescue boat when the launching appliance wave compensator device caused the boat to descend rapidly and hit the water, from a height of approximately 18 metres. The accident was investigated and found to be caused by faulty installation of the wave compensator device.
Recently, during installation testing of a fast rescue boat launching appliance, produced by a different manufacturer, the appliance was found to have a similar problem. This problem was also found to be caused by faulty installation of the wave compensator device.
- What should owners and operators do now?
Owners and operators of ships should check if their vessels are fitted with fast rescue boat launching appliances equipped with a wave compensator device. If so, owners should liaise with the manufacturer of the launching appliance and agree a suitable test procedure, to ensure proper operation of the appliance.