|Lifeboats in stowed position|
|370 person lifeboat; maybe 318 persons in future|
|typical liferaft of 35 to 60 persons design capacity|
The International Merchant Shipping Convention Rules state:
126.96.36.199 No lifeboat shall be approved to accommodate more than 150 persons.
188.8.131.52 The number of persons which a lifeboat to be launched by falls shall be permitted to accommodate shall be equal to the lesser of;
.1 the number of persons having an average mass of 75 kg /165 lbs.(for a lifeboat intended for a passenger ship) or 82.5 kg /181.5 lbs.(for a lifeboat intended for a cargo ship), all wearing lifejackets, that can be seated in a normal position without interfering with the means of propulsion or the operation of any of the lifeboat's equipment; or
.2 the number of spaces that can be provided on the seating arrangements in accordance with (see MSC 184.108.40.206 - figure 1.). The shapes may be overlapped as shown, provided footrests are fitted and there is sufficient room for legs and the vertical separation between the upper and lower seat is not less than 350mm / 13.8 inches.
The Port State responsibility of the United States is one of the missions of the USCG, they conduct surveys, hold drills and issue the US Passenger Certificate which allows vessels whose Flag State is not that of the United States, which is just about all of them, to use US Ports. To call at and carry United States Citizens and others from a US Port they must hold this US Certificate in addition to their Flag State Certificates and be inspected and examined every three (3) months by USCG. If the USCG decides to calculate the lifeboat capacity using their new 185 lbs. divisor this could mean that the number of persons in each lifeboat would be reduced. In turn a vessel must have a lifeboat capacity for everyone on board and therefore the passenger capacity on that US Passenger Certificate could be reduced. As NAUTICAL LOG posted previously one US excursion boat was reduced in capacity from 100 persons to 86 persons.
Take for example the latest seagoing resorts the MS Oasis of the Seas and MS Allure of the Seas, which to be honest have absolutely no allure for NAUTICAL LOG whatsoever. Passenger vessel lifeboats have grown in capacity from 100 persons to 150 persons to 370 persons in these two vessels, in spite of MSC Rules to the contrary. Their passenger capacity is 5400 guests and 2176 crew however they can "double-occupancy" to 6300 guests and 2246 crew. With this Flag State permit they must always have lifeboat and liferaft capacity for 8546 persons. To accomplish this they have 18 lifeboats each holding 370 persons, in apparent violation of MSC 220.127.116.11 above, and the remaining persons on board are evacuated in liferafts to make up the 8546 total capacity coverage.
If the USCG calculate using their new formula then the lifeboats will have their capacity reduced from 370 persons to 318 persons and to maintain the current capacity more liferafts would have to be fitted to have coverage for 8546 persons on board. However it would appear from the MSC rules above the USCG could choose to use the divisor of 165 lbs./75kg. It should be interesting to see how this all works out as with regard to the Cruise Industry the USCG is a total 'political animal'. Then there is that rival Agency always looking over their shoulder the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ready to place blame wherever.
Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work with India to free them.