Quality & competence:
The Lifesaving Power of Lifeboats

The Lifesaving Power of Lifeboats

Lifeboats are essential pieces of safety equipment that have been saving lives for centuries. From the earliest days of sailing to today's modern vessels, lifeboats have been there every step of the way to provide assistance and protection during emergency situations. 

What are Lifeboats?

Lifeboats are specially designed collective means of rescue that are used for emergency evacuation operations from a ship or a vessel. They are equipped with lifesaving equipment and are designed to be able to withstand extreme weather conditions. 

Lifeboats are typically used to evacuate people from sinking or damaged ships, but they can also be used for search and rescue operations, medical evacuations, and other types of emergency response.

The History of Development of Lifeboats 

The first lifeboats appeared at the end of the 18th century in England and were made of wood. For the propulsion of the boat, oars had to be used. These early lifeboats were often slow and cumbersome, but they were effective in providing assistance and saving lives.

Throughout the 19th century, lifeboats were continually developed and improved upon. The introduction of steam-powered lifeboats in the late 1800s made them much faster and more reliable. Their true effectiveness has become apparent at the beginning of the 20th century, when first motor-powered lifeboats appeared.

The introduction of new materials and technologies in the second half of the 20th century marked a new stage in the development and further improved the safety and functionality of lifeboats. Modern lifeboats are typically made from fiberglass or aluminum and are powered by effective engines - they became what we know them today: fast, maneuverable, durable and safe.

Types of Lifeboats and their Uses

There are many different types of lifeboats available today, each designed for a specific purpose. In addition, it is worth noting that according to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the maximum capacity of lifeboats cannot exceed 150 people.

 By design, the following lifeboats can be distinguishes: 

Partially enclosed lifeboats

Partially enclosed lifeboats are effective in operation and are distinguished by the ability to quickly board a large number of people. Stationary rigid closures of such a boat usually make up at least 20% of its length, thus forming two shelters. A permanently fixed folding canopy can cover open areas and people in the boat. The canopy can be installed by two people in about 2 minutes and protect them in the boat from cold, heat, wind and sea water.

Totally enclosed lifeboats

Totally enclosed lifeboats come in a variety of types and designs, but share common features defined by SOLAS. According to the Convention, lifeboats must have rigid watertight closures. The design of the boat must allow people to use oars with oarlocks to row.

Access inside of the boat is provided through hermetically sealed hatches, which should be easily closed and opened from the inside and outside. Sufficient daylight must enter through the portholes into the boat. Each seat is equipped with a seat belt, which must securely hold a person weighing 100 kg in case the boat is in an overturned position.

According to the launching method, lifeboats can be:.

Davit launched lifeboats

Such boats are designed to remain upright or to restore upright position even in rough seas if capsized. They are commonly used on larger vessels and offshore installations, and are equipped with watertight compartments for added safety.

Free Fall Lifeboats

Davit-launched lifeboats can be either totally enclosed or partially enclosed. According to SOLAS requirements, they must be durable enough to withstand impacts against the ship's hull with a lateral velocity of 3.5 m/s, as well as dropping onto the water surface from a height of 3 m.

Safety Features

Modern lifeboats are designed to be as safe and reliable as possible, and they are equipped with a variety of lifesaving equipment, including lifejackets, flares, radios, and distress signals.

Finally, modern lifeboats are designed to be as comfortable and safe as possible for those onboard. Lifeboats typically have comfortable seating, heating and cooling systems, and plenty of storage space for food and supplies.

Requirements and Standards

In order to ensure that lifeboats are safe and reliable, there are a number of safety regulations and standards that must be met. The above mentioned SOLAS Convention sets out the minimum safety requirements for lifeboats. Under SOLAS Chapter III, lifeboats must meet strict standards in terms of design, construction, equipment, and operation.

The lifeboats must have a rigid hull and remain stable, even when breached below the waterline and when fully loaded with equipment and crew. The hull of the boats must be non-combustible and must not spread fire. This is especially true in cases where such boats are used on ships carrying combustible substances or offshore oil platforms.