How open sea rescue operations with davits can be safer?

As they operate at open sea, all ships and their crews face challenges and risks. In mitigating such risk, the design, the maintenance and correct use of the davit is essential.

We at DavitNorway have long experience from shipboard operations. During near 2 decades of hands-on experience, we have had many talks with deck crew and the challenges they face in their operations. Many crew members say that launching and recovering workboats, FRC, or lifeboats are some of the riskiest operations they perform. This applies, especially under high sea state situations, and high navigation speed situations. Crew also report the need to rely on the quality of davits and launching equipment as a risk factor. Accidents do happen. Quite often, accidents with lifeboats and crew injuries occur during what should have been a controlled situation, like during rescue drills and lifeboats inspections.

So, why do such accidents happen?

Main reasons for accidents with lifeboat and lifesaving appliances

According to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and IMO, most of these accidents occur due to:

  • Failure of on-load release mechanism.
  • Inadvertent operation of on-load release mechanism.
  • Inadequate maintenance of lifeboats, davits and launching equipment.
  • Communication failures.
  • Lack of familiarity with lifeboats, davits, equipment, and associated controls.
  • Unsafe practices during lifeboat drills and inspections.
  • Design faults other than on-load release mechanisms.

In response to these problems, the Committee has implemented stricter requirements for lifeboat release systems. This makes davits and launching equipment compliance even more relevant.

What are the criteria to evaluate the design and performance of a davit?

As mentioned earlier, operations at open sea are critical for the ship and the crew members. The main criteria to evaluate the design and performance of a davit is the Sea State Code. This code relates a sea state/number to the height of the waves in meters, e.g. a davit with a sea state 6 classification, means it can work safely with wave heights up to 6 meters.

Let’s look at some other important SOLAS parameters, hereunder for Fast Rescue Craft (FRC) and for Man Over Board (MOB) boats:


  • Lowering speed of min 50 m/min
  • Hoisting speed of min 50 m/min

For MOB boats

  • Lowering speed of min 50 m/min (No Sea State provided)
  • Hoisting speed of min 50 m/min (No Sea State provided)
  • The importance of maintenance

The MSC increased the importance of periodic maintenance and servicing of all lifeboats, launching appliances and on-load release gear. This was one of the major measures taken to prevent accidents. They achieved it by providing specific guidelines and procedures for all manufacturers, shipowners and crews.

The guidelines and procedures also consider other regulations; the ones provided by SOLAS and the LSA code.

According to the MSC, these are the items one should examine for appropriate condition and operation:

  • Davit structure, regarding corrosion, misalignment, deformations and excessive free play.
  • Wires and sheaves, possible damages such as kinks and corrosion.
  • Lubrication of wires, sheaves, and moving parts.
  • Functioning of limit switches.
  • Stored power systems.
  • Hydraulic systems.

How can one improve access to perform maintenance activities?

Good maintenance of davits is obtainable by training crew members and operators well.
However, the crew also need to have full access to the davit to perform those tasks. This – requires a better davit design. With many davit-designs of today, ease of access to scheduled maintenance is not always easy. Critical components placed in heights often prevent the crew from scheduled maintenance while at sea. What can’t be reached without ladders or scaffolding, gets postponed – or forgotten. So how to improve this? Think davit design!

The best design will balance the requirements for operation with the requirement for ease of maintenance access.
The problem is, many davits found in the current market have a design which focuses only on complying with the regulations and standards for operations. Optimal access for maintenance operations is not always a priority.

Davit Norway AFF Davits

The DavitNorway A-frame Davits boast a design that aims to provide better maintenance access. Our Davits work with fast rescue crafts, man-over-board boats, workboats and daughter crafts, depending on your vessel’s requirement. Each davit is designed for optimal performance and ease of access for any maintenance.
We believe that with better design, comes better maintenance. Through this comes better and safer operations at sea.

Making sure your boat handling is safe!

When deciding what davit is the best for your application, consider not only regulations and standard compliance, but also how the design and the type of davit adapt to it. The true benefit of your davit comes over time. When the crew operates your ship’s davits with ease, when incidents are few or none, and when maintenance cost is low. A well maintained, well operated and safe davit makes a happy crew.

Do you want to learn more about how to improve the safety of your ship and its crew during rescue operations? Do you need further information on our AFF Davits? Feel free to contact us. Our team of specialists is always ready to serve you and reply to your inquiries.

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