SOLAS Requirements for Lifebuoys


SOLAS Requirements for Lifebuoys

The lifebuoys corresponding to SOLAS should be:

  1. Are located in easily accessible places on both sides of the vessel, on all open decks extending to the side of the ship; at least one should be placed near the stern;
  2. The lifebuoys should be fastened so that they can quickly and freely drop them onto the water.

At least one lifebuoy on each side of the ship should be equipped with a floating boat conforming to the code requirements (equal in length to at least two heights above the water, from the place where the life ring is located, or 30 meters, depending on what more).

At least half of the total number of lifebuoys should be equipped with Self-activating smoke signals that meet the requirements of the Code; at least two of these lights should also be equipped with self-activated smoke signals meeting the requirements of the Code, and should be capable of rapid release from attachment; Lifebuoys with lights and smoke signals should be evenly distributed on both sides of the vessel.

Each lifebuoy must be marked with capital letters of the Latin alphabet with the name of the ship on which it is transported and the port of registration of the vessel.


The table shows the minimum number of lifebuoys for a cargo vessel (according to SOLAS requirements):

Length of vessel in meters

minimum number of lifebuoys

Up to 100


100 and less than 150


150 and less than 200


200 and more


On tankers self-igniting lights operate from dry electric batteries.


Each lifebuoy should:

  • Have an outer diameter of not more than 800 mm and an inner diameter of at least 400 mm;
  • Made of non-fading material; It can not be inflatable or made of cane, cork chips or any crushed material. Usually the wheels are made of foamed polystyrene, foam rubber or other synthetic foam that does not absorb water.
  • Be able to maintain at least 14.5 kg of iron in fresh water for 24 hours;
  • Have a mass of at least 2.5 kg;
  • Do not sustain burning or continue melting after full enveloping with fire for 2 seconds;
  • Installed in such a way as to withstand falling into water from the height at which it is laid above the waterline;

Self-igniting lights must:

  • Do not fade when water gets into the water;
  • Be white and capable of either burning continuously with a light intensity of at least 2 cd in all directions of the upper hemisphere, or flashing (flashing discharge) with a speed of at least 50 flashes and no more than 70 flashes per minute with the corresponding effective luminous intensity;
  • Have an energy source capable of meeting the requirements of the preceding paragraph for a period of not less than 2 hours;
  • To withstand the test by dropping into water from the height at which it is laid above the waterline; 
Light-bearing buoys should:

  • Emit smoke of visible color at a uniform rate for at least 15 minutes when swimming in calm water;
  • Do not ignite or explode during the entire emission of the smoke signal;
  • Do not fade when seawater hits;
  • Continue to emit smoke when fully immersed in water for at least 10 seconds;
  • To withstand the test by dropping into water from the height at which it is laid above the waterline;

Rescue rails must:

  • Do not have excesses;
  • Have a diameter of at least 8 mm;
  • Have a tensile strength of at least 5 kN.

Back to the list