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08.08.2018

General requirements of SOLAS for liferafts

Rescue rafts are passive life-saving appliances.  By design, inflatable and rigid life rafts are different, and by the method of moving overboard, they are dropped and descended. 

The requirements that all life-saving appliances must meet are established by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS-74). They are reproduced in the Rules for the Equipment of Maritime Vessels of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping.

General requirements of SOLAS to liferafts:

  1. Each liferaft should be designed in such a way as to withstand the impact of all marine conditions afloat for 30 days.
  2. The liferaft should be designed in such a way that when it is immersed in water from a height of 18 m and it and its equipment could work satisfactorily. If the liferaft is located at a height of more than 18 m above the waterline in calm water, it must be tested for immersion from this height.
  3. A liferaft with a canopy, and without a canopy afloat, must withstand multiple jumps on it from a height of at least 4.5 m.
  4. The construction of the life raft and its fittings must withstand towing at a speed of 3 knots in calm water with full loading by people and equipment and with one of its sea anchors.
  5. A liferaft should have a canopy to protect passengers from environmental influences, which is automatically set in place when the life raft is launched and enters the water.
  6. A liferaft with a carrying capacity of less than six people can not be allowed to transport people.
  7.  If the liferaft should not be launched by a launching device, then the mass of the life raft, its container and its equipment should not be more than 185 kg.
  8. The liferaft should be equipped with an efficient hydrostatic, so that the possibility of improper operation of the device is excluded. Galvanization or other methods of applying a metal coating to parts of the hydrostatic uncoupling device are not allowed;

Descent Rafts

In addition to the above requirements, the liferaft should:

  • When the liferaft is fully loaded by people and equipment, it must withstand a side impact from the ship with a collision force of at least 3.5 m / s, and a drop in water from a height of at least 3 m without damage affecting its function;
  • Provide means for bringing the liferaft along with the landing deck into working condition and securely holding it during the landing.
  • Each discharge liferaft of each passenger vessel should be so arranged that it can be evacuated by all people from a vessel in distress within 3 minutes.
  • The marking required on liferafts equipped in accordance with 4.1.5.1 shall be "SOLAS A PACK" in block letters of the Roman alphabet.
  • The hydrostatic uncoupling device must provide communication between the ship and the life raft and is designed so that the life raft when it is released and, in the case of an inflatable life raft, is not drawn into by a sinking ship.

The liferaft is packed in a container that: 

  • Designed to withstand wear and tear in sea conditions;
  • It has sufficient buoyancy to pull the hydrostat from the inside and control the inflatable mechanism if the ship sinks, with the exception of the drain holes in the bottom of the container.
  • Watertight, except for drain holes in the bottom of the container.

The container must be marked:

  • In the name or trademark of the manufacturer;
  • Serial number;
  • The name of the approving authority and the number of persons allowed to be transported;
  • Type of emergency package SOLAS;
  • The date of the last service;
  • The maximum permissible stacking height above the waterline (depending on the height of the drop test and the length of the hydrostatic;
  • Startup instructions.

The normal equipment of each liferaft should consist of (Regulation 4.1.5.1)

  1. one floating life ring attached to the 30 m line;
  2. one non-folding type knife with a floating handle and a cord attached and laid in a pocket on the outside of the awning near the place where the hydrostatic is attached to the life raft. In addition, a liferaft, with a capacity of 13 people or more, should be equipped with a second folding knife;
  3. For a life raft that can hold no more than 12 people, one floating scoop. For a life raft that can accommodate 13 people or more, two floating scoops;
  4. two sponges;
  5. two floating anchors, each of which is equipped with a shockproof cable and an opening line, one of them is spare, and the other is permanently attached to the life raft, which forces the life raft to lie in the most stable way to the wind. The strength of each floating anchor and its rope and line should be sufficient in all marine conditions. Floating anchors should have means to prevent twisting of the line. A floating anchor permanently attached to liferafts installed on passenger ships should only be designed for manual deployment;
  6. two floating oars;
  7. three canning knives with special blades and scissors.
  8. one first aid kit for first aid in a waterproof case, which must be tightly closed after use;
  9. one whistle or equivalent sound signal;
  10. four parachute rockets;
  11. six falshfeyrov;
  12. two floating smoke bombs;
  13. one waterproof electric flashlight, suitable for Morse alarms
  14. spare set of batteries and one spare lamp in a waterproof container;
  15. effective radar reflector, if the liferaft is not installed by the RLO for lifeboats;
  16. one daytime signaling mirror with instructions for its use for signaling on ships and aircraft;
  17. one copy of the rescue signal table on a waterproof card or in a waterproof container;
  18. one set of fishing gear;
  19. a food allowance of at least 10,000 kJ for each person who is placed on a liferaft. This food should be acceptable, edible within the recommended shelf life and packaged in such a way that they can be easily divided and easily opened. Rations should be stored in a sealed package and packed in a waterproof container;
  20. Watertight containers containing a total of 1.5 liters of fresh water per person, placed on a life raft, of which 0.5 liters per person can be replaced with a brine removal device capable of producing an equal amount of fresh water for 2 days, 1 liter one anti-corrosive graduated drinking vessel;
  21. antimicrobial agents that last for at least 48 hours, and bags for seasickness at a rate of one bag for each person placed;
  22. instructions on how to survive;
  23.  instructions for immediate action; 
  24. heat-protection means sufficient for 10% of the number of people placed on a life raft


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