What Is Liferaft on a Ship?

Every ship has liferafts on board for passengers and crew in case of emergency. This is in addition to the lifeboats.

Life raft are more effortless to launch than lifeboats. In emergencies, evacuation from vessel ship can be done without manually releasing any of them. As the life raft are designed with an auto-inflatable system.

SOLAS Chapter III gives all the particulars for the types and the number of life raft to be carried as pe the size and type of the ship.

Where Are Life Rafts Located on Ships?

Life raft are usually located on the muster station, on any port and starboard side close to the lifeboat. They are also sometimes located on the aft of the ship. The location typically depends on the size of the ship.

Life raft are stored in a fiberglass container. Alongwith a high-pressure gas inflates them during an emergency.

A Hydrostatic Release Unit (HRU) is attached to the raft container and ship. It releases the raft even after the vessel sinks in water.

The particulars of the raft are stenciled on the container. It includes the capacity, manufacturing date, the time of service, company name, etc., along with the launching procedure with a great display for easy understanding.

The raft already has the essential survival items, including rations, pyrotechnics, life jackets, etc.

Some ships carry a davit launching system that lets the crew to inflate and board the raft on the ship. Thus, avoiding the risk of seawater getting in.

Important Solas Needs For Life Raft

  • All ships must secure each liferaft with its painter properly attached to the vessel.
  • Each liferaft or group of liferafts must be stowed with a float-free system that complies with regulations, ensuring they float free. If the liferaft is inflatable, it should also inflate automatically when the ship submerges.
  • Liferafts must be stowed to allow the manual release of one raft or container from the securing mechanisms.
  • Davit-launched liferafts must be positioned within reach of the lifting hooks. This reason is to prevent any losses any losses caused by trim and list requirements, ship movement, or power failure.
  • All life rafts have to be such that people on all corners of a ship have access to one in case of an emergency. Thus, ships have lots of rafts just in case.

Servicing of Life rafts

Every life raft has to get service.

  • The intervals not exceeding 12 months (if not possible, the administration can extend this time to 17 months)
  • at proper service stations with top-notch servicing facilities and trained people

Proper maintenance is must for the davit launched hooks in order to make sure that everything is in order and working fine.

Essential Requirements for Life Rafts and Carrying Capacity

The liferaft of any ship has to follow the regulations mentioned in SOLAS. Some of the critical points regarding liferafts are:

  • The lift raft should withstand exposure for 30 days afloat in all ocean conditions.
  • When dropped into the water from a height of 18 meters, the life raft and all its equipment will operate satisfactorily.
  • The floating life raft need to be capable of withstanding repeated jumps from a height of at least 4.5 meters above its floor, both with also without the canopy erected.
  • Fully loaded with people and equipment a raft might only do about 3 knots an hour.
  • Canopy provides insulation and protection against the weather by two layers of material insulated by an air gap.
  • The interior is to be of a non-discomforting color.
  • A raft needs to have enough oxygen for everyone at all times.
  • A manually controlled lamp, white in color, shall be fitted on top of the canopy. It must operate for at least 12 hours and have a luminous intensity of at least 4.3 candela.
  • If the flashlight is fixed on it, it shall flash at a rate of at least 50 flashes to about 70 flashes per minute. This will keep happening during the 12 hours it burns.
  • Also, every life raft has a lamp that can burn for 12 hours.
  • CO2 inflates with a small quantity of N2, which acts as an anti-freezing element. CO2 is non-flammable and is heavier than the air. Giving buoyancy to life saving raft. Its freezing point is -78 degrees, so it can inflate life rafts at shallow temperatures.

Safety Features on a Liferaft

Some of the main safety features of a liferaft are:

  • Pressure relief valve
  • Stabie good pocket
  • Insulated canopy with mutiple layers for protection from heat and cold

Important Liferaft Equipment

Some equipment which is common to all life rafts.

  • Rescue quoits with minimum 30-meters in length.
  • Non-folding knives with strong handles
  • For 12 guys or less, one bailer. For more than 13 persons, two bailers should be kept.
  • A couple of sponges
  • Few buoyant paddles
  • Three tin openers
  • A couple of sea anchors
  • One pair of scissors
  • A first-aid waterproof kit
  • A whistle
  • Need a waterproof torch for sending out messages Morse code with one extra set of back up power and one bulb
  • Require a signaling mirror/heliograph
  • One radar reflector
  • One life-saving signal waterproof card
  • One fishing tackle
  • Every person to have a food ration of 10000 KJ of energy.
  • Water ration- 1.5 liters of fresh water for every person
  • Half a dozen Hand held Flares
  • A Few Rocket Parachute fires
  • Couple of Buoyant Smokes to signal

Markings on a Liferaft Container

Important markings given on every liferaft container are:

  • Maker’s name and logo
  • A unique Serial number
  • Name of the relevant body
  • Number of passengers carried
  • SOLAS emergency pack is provided
  • Time of the last service

If the life raft takes in and is on its belly upside down, it has a righting strap capable of stabilizing it. Now, to do this we have to climb onto the Carbon Dioxide cylinder and pull it in the direction of the wind.

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