These are the 7 essential tools for N&P service technicians when they are sent to service a conventional type lifeboat and davit. Since freefall type of lifeboats do not require more special tools, we will just focus on the conventional type for this article. In N&P Maritime, we normally send 3 service technicians for annual inspection of 2 lifeboats and 2 davits; no matter the vessel is in the anchorage or port. So long the vessel is in Singapore, this is the normal team size for inspection orders.
There are companies that can perform the same work with just 1 flying crew. Well, we at N&P Maritime believe in being prepared, perform the work fast and with least inconvenience to the crew. There is a reason why ship's crew does not like to call Singapore. TOO MUCH WORK is going on at the same time. Taking bunker, provision and services from multiple companies all require the crew's attention. These are the chores that they have to complete before departure, therefore, we always send sufficient technicians to carry out the work by ourselves without interfering with crew's other duties.
Our normal baggage consist of 2 bags of SWL 3 tons chain blocks, 1 bag of round slings with shackles and 1 bag of common tools. To save our back, we rely on our trusty trolley to help us ferry the bags from our parked vehicle to the jetty so we can simply transfer the bags over to the service boat. For your information, 3 of those bags are more than 20kg and 1 of the bags is 12kg.
#2 Chain Block / Manual Chain Hoist
If you have read my other post on "How to Work on Lifeboat Release Gears Safely", you would understand the importance of a right sized Chain Block or Manual Chain Hoist when it comes to conventional lifeboat service. Based on our 8 years experience in lifeboat & davit services, SWL 3 tons chain block is the perfect size. It easily lifts a 30-ish men lifeboat which is normally about 2-3 tons in empty boat weight. Yet, the weight of the chain block is about 20kg. so that is not crazy heavy to carry around. Some people might argue that a SWL 2 tons chain block is sufficient as well however, I have encountered in a couple of times, a SWL 2 tons chain block is having difficulty lifting the boat with just 2 men inside.
I cannot imagine if the equipment gives way when lifeboat's release hooks are opened. Therefore, to be on the safer side, N&P Maritime only uses the SWL 3 tons chain blocks. Our service technicians always bring our own chain blocks to vessel; we know our equipment's condition and they are load tested by licensed professional engineer every year. Any chain block failed at the test will be disposed off while a new piece will be acquired.
#3 Round Sling & Shackle
Part of the lifting accessories for the lifeboat service are the SWL 4 tons round sling and appropriate sized shackle. These are required for hanging the chain blocks to the davit structure and the lifeboat auxiliary lifting hook. We always carry 4 sets with us for the conventional lifeboat service.
#4 Ergonomic Tool Bag
To safe your back and prevent tool loss, a ergonomic tool bag is a must. The amount of tools that a service technician carry to ship is rather extensive. Staple tools like hammer, chisel, spanner, screw driver, ratchet, sockets, etc...; to consumables like cotton gloves, silicone gasket and sand paper. If your tools are not organised properly, high chances that they get misplaced every once in a while.
The price of the tools might be cheap but it causes great inconvenience when you only find out at the next service job that you dropped your tool in the last ship you've attended. Especially when it is a tool that is not commonly available onboard, such as the next tool, #5 Circlip Plier.
#5 Circlip Plier
We come to the slightly more expensive tool - Circlip Plier "Open type". This is a tool commonly required for davit winch service. Most, if not all davit winches will require using circlip plier as part of the procedure to remove the brake components. There is no 1 size fits all plier, you will need a minimum of 2 pliers - 1 for smaller and 1 for bigger circlips.
#6 18V Battery Wrench and Bag Full of Common Sockets
The tool that improved our service technicians' productivity on site. With this tool, our technician is able to open a winch cover within 5 minutes, versus 20 minutes. Multiple times improvement in productivity and the 18V version has a high enough torque of 240 Nm which does not require manual fastening after.
It is expensive but the investment is well worth it, we can of course insist our service technicians to use manual tools such as rachet and spanner however, we believe that when our team is deployed on the job site, we should always come prepared. Well prepared to complete the work in a reasonable time frame and so far, our efforts have been appreciated by the crew and surveyor.
#7 Manual Screw Jack
Chinese davit manufacturers such as Zhenjiang Marine Auxiliary Machinery, Jiangsu Jiaoyan Marine Equipment Co., Ltd or Jiangyin Wolong F.R.P. Boat Co., Ltd. has similar winch designs and similar problem. To completely remove the brake components, a pinion gear has to be separated from the shaft. This can be tricky without using a manual screw jack - sometimes hours wasted just to extract this pinion gear.
I've heard customers telling me that some technicians simply give up - All because they did not have this tool with them.
Optional Tool - Pick
This is an optional tool. Useful but not absolutely necessary. We uses this pick to remove disc type brakes. It is better than trying to remove them by our fingers due to the small gap. This was made from push pull cable scraps.
Above are the tools that I think are essential for our service work. If you have seen or know other tools that may improve productivity, please drop me a message.
N&P Maritime (S.E.A.) Pte Ltd is a specialist in lifeboat & davit services based in Singapore, our technicians are trained by some of the bigger lifeboat & davit manufacturers. Our company is also approved service supplier for ABS, BV, CCS, DNVGL, KR, LR and NKK .
If you are looking out for service partner or would like to cooperate with us, please, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last but not least, appreciate if you follow our company page on Linkedin so you will be notified about articles like this when they are made available.
Share this post
Francis is the owner of N&P Maritime (S.E.A.) Pte Ltd. He has been in the Lifeboat service industry since 2007, when IMO MSC Circ. 1206 was first introduced, he held a position of General Manager in West Marine Engineering Pte Ltd, where he worked closely with lifeboat, release gear and launching appliance manufacturer for after-sales service. He also collaborated with marine water treatment companies like Jiangsu Nanji and Georim for their equipment sales and after-sales services.