The Container Ship Safety Forum (CSSF), whose members represent more than 50% of the worldwide available TEU capacity on fully cellular container vessels, calls for a reinvention of the lifeboat onboard cargo vessels.

Over the years, many seafarers have been injured, some of them fatally, while launching the lifeboat during evacuations or evacuation drills. Not because the lifeboats have not been compliant with safety standards, but simply because the launch of a lifeboat is a dangerous task to perform.

“We need to reinvent the lifeboat and its launching equipment onboard cargo vessels. For way too long, we have seen able seafarers being injured when launching lifeboats even though crews have  been trained and the lifeboat is modern and fully compliant,” says Aslak Ross, Chairman of the CSSF.

“Everyone knows we have a problem; seafarers are scared to launch lifeboats; however, no one has offered a plausible path towards a solution to the problem for cargo vessels. A change is needed to provide a safe environment for seafarers and to regain trust in lifesaving equipment,” he adds.

In a release issued yesterday the Container Ship Safety Forum (CSSF) encourages the industry, classification societies, flag states and suppliers to launch innovation to replace current lifeboats with a safer technology. Alternative designs are already available for offshore installations and for passenger evacuation on PAX vessels through Marine Evacuation Systems and the like.

“Such systems should also be made available to cargo vessels without delay. It is long overdue to change the current environment and innovate to eliminate the risk of lifeboat accidents. We need approved systems that can be fitted to newbuilding’s – we need to safeguard our seafarers,” says Aslak Ross.

“Simulation and use of new technology is one way to conduct drills in a safer environment, and we support the intent to reduce the risk of accidents, however, it does not solve the core of the problem: Launching a lifeboat is too dangerous. And even though simulation has its advantages, it should only be used as a supplement to well-conducted onboard abandon ship drills where crews are familiarized with the ship specific equipment,” says Aslak Ross.

The Container Ship Safety Forum is a global business-to-business network and industry association, that is aiming to improve safety performance and management practices in the container shipping industry.