Man the Lifeboats: Responding to Regulatory Pressures

Based on his recent experiences with vessel owners, we asked our Director of Offshore Engineering, Mark Goalen (below) about the latest lifeboat developments.  He has been investigating the challenge of maintaining compliance with North Sea regulations for clients in 2019 specifically related to working in the Norwegian sector.

“The change which hovered on the horizon is now here. This means the PSA (Petroleum Safety Authority) is being more proactive and wants to know what owners are doing to meet their requirements. The improvement order notices issued at the end of 2018 are evidence of this.

It’s no secret that Norwegian regulators have a preference for free fall lifeboats. However, they are open to davit launch provided it is in compliance with NORSOK R002: 2017, the applicable sections of DNVGL-ST-E406 and LSA etc. However you react to this, you need to actively demonstrate you are taking changes seriously and have considered all options carefully.

There is, of course, a lot to consider;  lifeboat structural integrity and power requirements, the technical compliance of the davit and launch system, the position and orientation of systems onboard the vessel, even taking allowable launch conditions into consideration when the vessel has heading restrictions.  The secondary means of launch and the ability to recovery with personnel onboard also need to be considered. This is only really a concern if you are trying to reuse an existing davit.

All this means if they haven’t started already, owners should be putting thought into how they are going to comply. Every vessel, of course, will have its own unique challenges.  New lifeboats are generally heavier (larger engines and increased structural integrity) and quite possibly need a different orientation to original designs.  This, in turn, will most likely lead to a requirement for new connecting structures.  You may also need to review access ways and muster station locations to ensure there is sufficient space for the capacity required. Consideration to steelwork in the immediate vicinity that may require modification, and what is behind it, is also important; whether it is accommodation or machinery spaces, it all comes with additional work to prepare and reinstate the area for installation.

My advice is to start planning by contacting your lifeboat OEM (they may offer a compliant solution) and involve your Classification Society, engineering suppliers and preferred installation contractor or yard. Lifeboats have to be fully integrated into your asset’s structure and operations.  The key to achieving this, and staying compliant with regulators, is talking to the right people both within your organisation and outside it about the issues before starting. The good news is, there is already a degree of industry understanding of published requirements and the stance the authorities are taking to them to tap in to.”

The team at Houlder is happy to speak to anyone looking for advice on planning their best way forward or those already with a solution looking for lifeboat engineering support or installation assistance. To find out more, email or call Mark Goalen on 01224 702200.

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