Lifeboats are one of the most important life-saving equipment that are attached to a ship and they can help to save lives of passengers on board a ship in times of emergencies. They can also be kept on shore to rescue people who are in trouble at sea. These small rigid vessels, which can also be referred to as elaborate versions of a life raft, are secured on the ship into davits which allows it to be launched from the side of the ship, saving crucial escape time as it uses minimal mechanical assistance to be launched allowing an early escape. Besides rescuing people from a dangerous situation, a lifeboat is also required to have essential survival equipment for the people on board the lifeboat to use to survive until they receive help. Some examples of such items can be rations, fresh water, first aid kit, compass and signaling equipment. Ships make use of different types of lifeboats in event of an emergency.
Types of Lifeboat.
There are three types of lifeboats used on merchant vessels :
As the name suggests, the open lifeboat has no roof and is normally propelled by manual power by using hand-propelled ores. Compression ignition engine may also be provided for the propulsion purpose. However, open lifeboats are becoming obsolete now because of stringent safety norms, but one may find them on an older ship. The open lifeboat doesn’t help much in rain or bad weather and the possibility of water ingress in the highest.
The three most common types of life boats that are found on ships can be the Open Lifeboat, Closed Lifeboat and the Free fall life boat. The least common amongst the three being the open lifeboat is now commonly found only on older ships. As the name would suggest, these boats are open with no roof and normally require manual power using hand propelled ores in order for it to move. Some of these boats may also come with ignition engine as a replacement for the hand propelled ores to allow the lifeboat to gain movement. These lifeboats usually have the tendency to collect water during rainy seasons. Also due to the fact that they do not have a roof, they cannot guarantee 100% safety for their passengers. Due to their older designs, very little safety features and stringent safety norms, these lifeboats are becoming obsolete.
Closed lifeboats are the most popular lifeboats that are used on ships, for they are enclosed which saves the crew from seawater, strong wind and rough weather. Moreover, the watertight integrity is higher in this type of lifeboat and it can also get upright on its own if toppled over by waves.
These are the most commonly used lifeboats on ships today. As their name suggest, they are enclosed with a door to allow passengers to board it. The enclosed design saves the lifeboats passengers from sea water, rough weather or strong winds. These lifeboats also do not allow water to enter its interiors and they also have the ability to get upright on their own if they were to get toppled over by harsh weather or rough waves. The closed shape of these lifeboats is able to ensure the safety of its passengers. They also do not require manual power to propel the lifeboat forward as they are motorized.
Free fall lifeboat.
Freefall lifeboat is similar to an enclosed lifeboat but the process of launching is entirely different. They are aerodynamic in nature and thus the boat can penetrate the water without damaging the body when launched from the ship.
These lifeboats are similar to closed lifeboats with the difference being their shape. The launching process of these boats is totally different from closed lifeboats. These boats have an aerodynamic shape which allows them to penetrate the water without damaging their body as they free fall from the ship when launched into the water. They are located at the aft of the ship which provides them with the maximum clear area to free fall into the water.
These lifeboats also make use of different methods to deploy into the sea during an emergency. Two most common methods are on load mechanism and free fall boat release. On load mechanism is when a lifeboat is released from a wire at the height of 1 meter above sea level with all the crew members inside the life boat. A lever which can be controlled from inside the lifeboat is used to detach the lifeboat from the hook. This ensures safety of the passengers as they do not have to go out of the life boat to unhook the lifeboat. A free fall release is similar to the on load mechanism with the difference being that the boat is allowed to free fall from a greater height through a rap tilted into the water which is almost near the top of the ship.