Lifeboat (equipment)

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Lifeboat (for 74 people) on the Cap San Diego
Lifeboats of the Costa Concordia

A lifeboat is the most important collective lifeline on ships . It can be launched into the water quickly using a special launching device. Lifeboats are provided with facilities and equipment that offer protection to the injured crew and passengers of ships and ensure their survival until help arrives. The collective life-saving appliances also include life rafts or life rafts. If necessary, these are inflated with compressed air. Rescue collars are counted among the individual rescue equipment.

In the best case scenario, lifeboats are carried in sufficient numbers and with sufficient capacity on board seagoing vessels . In the event of a ship sinking or other life-threatening situations for the people on board, they should be able to withdraw into the lifeboats and leave the danger area. Since the first SOLAS agreement following the sinking of the RMS Titanic , rules and recommendations have been drawn up for the number, size and equipment of lifeboats on board merchant shipping.


Lifeboats of the cruise ship Germany

In a lifeboat, the items prescribed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for locomotion, for making noticeable and for the protection and survival of the boat occupants must be present. This includes aids for moving the lifeboat, buoyant oars , reserve belts and steering devices such as oars and tiller , sails (on open boats), scepter ( oarlocks ), a boat hook , an eyelet , two puets (buckets), hatchets, a storm lantern with oil , waterproof packaged matches, a compass , a sea ​​anchor , safety and suspension lines, an oil container, emergency provisions, drinking water containers with the prescribed amount of content, scoop and drinking cups, parachute rockets, floating orange smoke signals, a first aid kit, a flashlight, a daily signal mirror , Knife with can opener, throwing lines, a signal whistle, fishing tackle, a board with rescue signals and explanations for what to do in an emergency and a protective cover (open boats). Motor-driven boats do not have masts or sails. The number of straps is also reduced.

The most important items of equipment include lifeboat emergency transmitters in various forms.

Radio devices adapted for the area of ​​application serve both to report a danger and to coordinate a rescue operation. While a marine radio is indispensable in the area of ​​the coasts and seas , lifeboats on inland waters must be equipped with a radio approved for inland navigation. These are radio devices that send out an automatic ATIS identification after a radio message has been sent and thus enable the radio station to be identified (see also regional agreement on inland waterway radio ).

Boat types

Modern free fall lifeboat

From the originally rowed open wooden lifeboats, diverse modern, often motorized variants with jet or screw drive have developed, such as the free-fall lifeboat . From the 1960s onwards, boats made of glass fiber reinforced plastic (GRP) gradually gained acceptance .

Lifeboats have a prescribed design and must not exceed a certain mass and dimensions. There are two different types of lifeboat, one for cargo ships and the other for tankers . If the flash point of the cargo is below 60 ° C and the cargo emits toxic gases, a lifeboat with an independent air supply and fire protection is mandatory according to SOLAS . The closed lifeboats had their origin in an idea and close observation of the shipbuilding engineer Ernst Nicol . The first closed lifeboats on German ocean-going vessels were installed in 1957 on the two bulk carriers Praunheim and Berkersheim of the Unterweser shipping company . In Wesermünde built Gustav Kuhr the first closed and unsinkable lifeboats.

Special forms

To the lifeboats are also inflated by compressed air if necessary liferafts . They are widely used in recreational boating, where there is not enough space for a full-fledged lifeboat. In contrast to the tenders of larger ocean-going vessels, these life rafts can only be used in emergencies, as they cannot be folded up again after being triggered (using a rip cord). There are also inflatable one-man lifeboats with heating and signal color.

In addition to the classic lifeboats, special submarines are also used to rescue survivors from damaged military submarines, e.g. B. the Russian Pris class .

Leaving the ship

The master is responsible for giving the order to leave the ship if he considers it necessary. As a rule, he will only make this decision in an extreme emergency. According to international law, the captain is responsible for the crew and passengers to the end and must monitor and coordinate the rescue operation. A conscientious captain is the last to leave the ship . There are several reasons to stay on a still buoyant ship for as long as possible, even if it is badly damaged. There are significantly more supplies there than can be brought into the life raft, and the situation can possibly also be improved with the tools available, for example by setting a makeshift sail. In addition, you are better protected from the weather inside a yacht than in a life raft with poor insulation. A yacht is much more visible to rescue teams than a life raft. For example, in the 1979 Fastnet regatta , 15 sailors died, seven of them after boarding a life raft. Out of 24 abandoned yachts, only five eventually sank.


The English captain Frederick Marryat developed a lifeboat in 1820, for whose design he received a gold medal from the Royal Humane Society . The principle and design of the boat, which is particularly buoyant with 16 oar belts and additional air chambers and cork inlays, for about 60 people are described in more detail in Dodsley's Annual Register . A model of the boat is on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.

In 1904, Ole Brude developed a completely enclosed lifeboat.

After the sinking of the Titanic , the industrialist Aaron Hirsch offered a price of 20,000 marks in April 1912, which was promised to those who would construct a lifeboat that would be “seaworthy for at least 24 hours” and “ready for use within half a minute”. Hirsch's prize was never awarded.

In 2017, Palfinger Marine developed the MPC 49 lifeboat with two decks and 440 people capacity for cruise ships .

See also


Web links

Commons : Lifeboats  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Lifeboat  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Safety at Sea , p. 92
  2. Safety at Sea , p. 32
  3. ^ Dodsley's Annual Register , Vol. 62, 1820, p. 1372
  4. Double-ended lifeboat (model). National Maritime Museum
  5. After serious marine accidents, German merchant ships are to be equipped with new types of lifeboats . In: Der Spiegel . No. 1 , 1982 ( online ).
  6. Palfinger Marine - World Record Lifeboat Boarding, video (1:27), upload April 21, 2017; accessed July 24, 2017.