With the CORVID-19 pandemic causing shipyards to shut down operations, we have been receiving interests for 5 yearly inspections of lifeboats and davits and load tests to be carried out in the Singapore anchorage. This number has increased at least 4-5 times as compared to 'normal' times. We have been lucky to be awarded with some of these inspections and load tests in the anchorage, and I like to share some experience on that, pros & cons and lastly, what are the conflicting work to avoid, to complete the service smoothly.
We normally request for 2 days attendance for such work. 1st day is for performing inspection and service on the lifeboats, release gears and the launching appliances. The release gear will be overhauled and parts will be replaced to prepare for the load test. Also, normally the load test equipment will be sent onboard vessel after inspection is completed and deemed fit for load test.
As for 2nd day, the load test guys will load the lifeboat with balloon type water bags for the load test of the lifeboat, release gear onload release test and davit brake test. We do all the earlier mentioned tests in a single launch.
Agent also need to arrange for 'safety boat' to transport personnel (crew and service technicians) from the vessel to the lifeboat. Once the safety boat has arrived, then the Chief Mate or Captain will need to inform MPA Safety Dept via Channel 7 for approval.
We start off with the brake operation test, once the lifeboat is at the deck level, we lower the boat again 2-3 times to verify the brake function. When the classification surveyor is satisfied with the brake test, we lower the lifeboat to about 1 mtrs above sea level then wait for the personnel to enter the lifeboat. The 'safety boat' shall send them near the lifeboat where they have to jump over. Make sure that appropriate personal protective equipment are donned by the personnel at all times.
Once the personnel has entered the lifeboat, they will start off with the onload release hook operation test. Then engine operation and sprinkler test (if any), after the release hook has been reset properly. At this point, the operator should also check if the hydrostatic interlock device is activated. If it's not, notify the lifeboat service engineer/technician.
Please note that such tests i.e., the launching and retrieval of lifeboats can only be carried out during day time. Estimate between 7am to 7pm. If we missed this time frame due to poor weather or poor planning, the load test has to be postponed to the next day.
Hence, it is imperative that conflicting jobs should be identified and scheduled in such a way that the load test will not be affected.
Some points to take note:
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