Regulation 17 - General requirements
(1) Construction of lifeboats
(a) All lifeboats shall be properly constructed
and shall be of such form and proportions that they have ample stability
in a seaway and sufficient freeboard when loaded with their full complement
of persons and equipment. All lifeboats shall have rigid hulls and
shall be capable of maintaining positive stability when in an upright
position in calm water and loaded with their full complement of persons
and equipment and holed in any one location below the waterline, assuming
no loss of buoyancy material and no other damage.
(b) All lifeboats shall be of sufficient strength
to enable them to be safely lowered into the water when loaded with
their full complement of persons and equipment.
(c) Hulls and rigid covers shall be fire-retardant
(d) Seating shall be provided on thwarts, benches
or fixed chairs fitted as low as practicable in the lifeboat and constructed
so as to be capable of supporting the number of persons each weighing
100 kg for which spaces are provided in compliance with the requirements
of paragraph (2)(b)(ii).
(e) Each lifeboat shall be of sufficient strength
to withstand a load, without residual deflection on removal of that
(i) in the case of boats with metal hulls, 1.25
times the total mass of the lifeboat when loaded with its full complement
of persons and equipment; or
(ii) in the case of other boats, twice the total
mass of the lifeboat when loaded with its full complement of persons
(f) Each lifeboat shall be of sufficient strength
to withstand, when loaded with its full complement of persons and
equipment and with, where applicable, skates or fenders in position,
a lateral impact against the vessel's side at an impact velocity of
at least 3.5 m/s and also a drop into the water from a height of at
least 3 m.
(g) The vertical distance between the floor surface
and the interior of the enclosure or canopy over 50% of the floor
area shall be:
(i) not less than 1.3 m for a lifeboat permitted
to accommodate nine persons or less;
(ii) not less than 1.7 m for a lifeboat permitted
to accommodate 24 persons or more;
(iii) not less than the distance as determined
by linear interpolation between 1.3 m and 1.7 m for a lifeboat permitted
to accommodate between 9 and 24 persons.
(2) Carrying capacity of lifeboats
(a) No lifeboat shall be approved to accommodate
more than 150 persons.
(b) The number of persons which a lifeboat shall
be permitted to accommodate shall be equal to the lesser of:
(i) the number of persons having an average mass
of 75 kg, 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
(ii) the number of spaces that can be provided
on the seating arrangements In accordance with 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 350 mm.
(c) Each seating position shall be clearly indicated
in the lifeboat.
(3) Access into lifeboats
(a) Every vessel lifeboat shall be so arranged
that it can be boarded by its full complement of persons in not more
than 3 min from the time the instruction to board is given. Rapid
disembarkation shall also be possible.
(b) Lifeboats shall have a boarding ladder that
can be used on either side of the lifeboat to enable persons in the
water to board the lifeboat. The lowest step of the ladder shall be
not less than 0.4 m below the lifeboat's light waterline.
(c) The lifeboat shall be so arranged that helpless
people can be brought on board either from the sea or on stretchers.
(d) All surfaces on which persons might walk shall
have a non-skid finish.
All lifeboats shall have inherent buoyancy or shall be fitted
with inherently buoyant material which shall not be adversely affected
by seawater, oil or oil products, sufficient to float the lifeboat
with all its equipment on board when flooded and open to the sea.
Additional inherently buoyant material, equal to 280 N of buoyant
force per person shall be provided for the number of persons the lifeboat
is permitted to accommodate. Buoyant material, unless in addition
to that required above, shall not be installed external to the hull
of the lifeboat.
(5) Lifeboat freeboard and stability
All lifeboats, when loaded with 50% of the number of persons
the lifeboat is permitted to accommodate seated in their normal positions
to one side of the centreline, shall have a freeboard, measured from
the waterline to the lowest opening through which the lifeboat may
become flooded, of at least 1.5% of the lifeboat's length or 100 mm,
whichever is the greater.
(6) Lifeboat propulsion
(a) Every lifeboat shall be powered by a compression
ignition engine. No engine shall be used for any lifeboat if its fuel
has a flashpoint of 43°C or less (closed cup test).
(b) The engine shall be provided with either a
manual starting system, or a power starting system with two independent
rechargeable energy sources. Any necessary starting aids shall also
be provided. The engine starting systems and starting aids shall start
the engine at an ambient temperature of 15°C within 2 min of commencing
the start procedure unless, in the opinion of the Administration having
regard to the particular voyages in which the vessel carrying the
lifeboat is constantly engaged, a different temperature is appropriate.
The starting systems shall not be impeded by the engine casing, thwarts
or other obstructions.
(c) The engine shall be capable of operating for
not less than 5 min after starting from cold with the lifeboat out
of the water.
(d) The engine shall be capable of operating when
the lifeboat is flooded up to the centreline of the crankshaft.
(e) The propeller shafting shall be so arranged
that the propeller can be disengaged from the engine. Provision shall
be made for ahead and astern propulsion of the lifeboat.
(f) The exhaust pipe shall be so arranged as to
prevent water from entering the engine in normal operation.
(g) All lifeboats shall be designed with due regard
to the safety of persons in the water and to the possibility of damage
to the propulsion system by floating debris.
(h) The speed of a lifeboat when proceeding ahead
in calm water, when loaded with its full complement of persons and
equipment and with all engine-powered auxiliary equipment in operation,
shall be at least 6 knots and at least 2 knots when towing a 25–person
liferaft loaded with its full complement of persons and equipment
or its equivalent. Sufficient fuel, suitable for use throughout the
temperature range expected in the area in which the vessel operates,
shall be provided to run the fully loaded lifeboat at 6 knots for
a period of not less than 24 h.
(i) The lifeboat engine, transmission and engine
accessories shall be enclosed in a fire-retardant casing or other
suitable arrangements providing similar protection. Such arrangements
shall also protect persons from coming into accidental contact with
hot or moving parts and protect the engine from exposure to weather
and sea. Adequate means shall be provided to reduce the engine noise.
Starter batteries shall be provided with casings which form a watertight
enclosure around the bottom and sides of the batteries. The battery
casings shall have a tight fitting top which provides for necessary
(j) The lifeboat engine and accessories shall
be designed to limit electromagnetic emissions so that engine operation
does not interfere with the operation of radio life-saving appliances
used in the lifeboat.
(k) Means shall be provided for recharging all
engine-starting, radio and searchlight batteries. Radio batteries
shall not be used to provide power for engine starting. Means shall
be provided for recharging lifeboat batteries from the vessel's power
supply at a supply voltage not exceeding 55 V which can be disconnected
at the lifeboat embarkation station.
(l) Water-resistant instructions for starting
and operating the engine shall be provided and mounted in a conspicuous
place near the engine starting controls.
(7) Lifeboat fittings
(a) An lifeboats shall be provided with at least
one drain valve fitted near the lowest point in the hull, which shall
automatically open to drain water from the hull when the lifeboat
is not waterborne and shall automatically close to prevent entry of
water when the lifeboat is waterborne. Each drain valve shall be provided
with a cap or plug to close the valve, which shall be attached to
the lifeboat by a lanyard, a chain, or other suitable means. Drain
valves shall be readily accessible from inside the lifeboat and their
position shall be clearly indicated.
(b) All lifeboats shall be provided with a rudder
and tiller. When a wheel or other remote steering mechanism is also
provided the tiller shall be capable of controlling the rudder in
case of failure of the steering mechanism. The rudder shall be permanently
attached to the lifeboat. The tiller shall be permanently installed
on, or linked to, the rudder stock; however, if the lifeboat has a
remote steering mechanism, the tiller may be removable and securely
stowed near the rudder stock. The rudder and tiller shall be so arranged
as not to be damaged by operation of the release mechanism or the
(c) Except in the vicinity of the rudder and propeller,
a buoyant lifeline shall be becketed around the outside of the lifeboat.
(d) Lifeboats which are not self-righting when
capsized shall have suitable handholds on the underside of the hull
to enable persons to cling to the lifeboat. The handholds shall be
fastened to the lifeboat in such a way that, when subjected to an
impact sufficient to cause them to break away from the lifeboat, they
break away without damaging the lifeboat.
(e) An lifeboats shall be fitted with sufficient
watertight lockers or compartments to provide for the storage of the
small items of equipment, water and provisions required by paragraph
(8). Means shall be provided for the storage of collected rainwater.
(f) Every lifeboat to be launched by a fall or
falls shall be fitted with a release mechanism complying with the
(i) the mechanism shall be so arranged that all
hooks are released simultaneously;
(ii) the mechanism shall have two release capabilities
(1) a normal release capability which will release
the lifeboat when it is waterborne or when there is no load on the
(2) an on-load release capability which will release
the lifeboat with a load on the hooks. This release shall be so arranged
as to release the lifeboat under any conditions of loading from no-load
with the lifeboat waterborne to a load of 1.1 times the total mass
of the lifeboat when loaded with its full complement of persons and
equipment. This release capability shall be adequately protected against
accidental or premature use;
(iii) the release control shall be clearly marked
in a colour that contrasts with its surroundings;
(iv) the mechanism shall be designed with a factor
of safety of 6 based on the ultimate strength of the materials used,
assuming the mass of the lifeboat is equally distributed between the
(g) Every lifeboat shall be fitted with a release
device to enable the forward painter to be released when under tension.
(h) Every lifeboat which is fitted with a fixed
two-way VHF radiotelephone apparatus with an antenna which is separately
mounted shall be provided with arrangements for siting and securing
the antenna effectively in its operating position.
(i) Lifeboats intended for launching down the
side of a vessel shall have skates and fenders as necessary to facilitate
launching and prevent damage to the lifeboat.
(j) A manually controlled lamp visible on a dark
night with a clear atmosphere at a distance of at least 2 miles for
a period of not less than 12 h shall be fitted to the top of the cover
or enclosure. If the light is a flashing light, it shall initially
flash at a rate of not less than 50 flashes per minute over the first
2 h of operation of the 12 h operating period.
(k) A lamp or source of light shall be fitted
inside the lifeboat to provide illumination for not less than 12 h
to enable reading of survival and equipment instructions; however,
oil lamps shall not be permitted for this purpose.
(l) Unless expressly provided otherwise, every
lifeboat shall be provided with effective means of bailing or be automatically
(m) Every lifeboat shall be so arranged that an
adequate view forward, aft and to both sides is provided from the
control and steering position for safe launching and manoeuvring.
All items of lifeboat equipment, whether required by this
paragraph or elsewhere in this chapter, with the exception of boat-hooks
which shall be kept free for fending off purposes, shall be secured
within the lifeboat by lashings, storage in lockers or compartments,
storage in brackets or similar mounting arrangements or other suitable
means. The equipment shall be secured in such a manner as not to interfere
with any abandonment procedures. An items of lifeboat equipment shall
be as small and of as little mass as possible and shall be packed
in a suitable compact form. Except where otherwise stated, the normal
equipment of every lifeboat shall consist of:
(i) sufficient buoyant oars to make headway in
calm seas. Thole pins, crutches or equivalent arrangements shall be
provided for each oar provided. Thole pins or crutches shall be attached
to the boat by lanyards or chains;
(ii) two boat-hooks;
(iii) a buoyant bailer and two buckets;
(iv) a survival manual;footnote
(v) a binnacle containing an efficient compass
which is luminous or provided with suitable means of illumination.
In a totally enclosed lifeboat, the binnacle shall be permanently
fitted at the steering position; in any other lifeboat, it shall be
provided with suitable mounting arrangements;
(vi) a sea-anchor of adequate size fitted with
a shock-resistant hawser and a tripping line which provides a firm
hand grip when wet. The strength of the sea-anchor, hawser and tripping
line shall be adequate for all sea conditions;
(vii) two efficient painters of a length equal
to not less than twice the distance from the stowage position of the
lifeboat to the waterline in the lightest seagoing condition or 15
m, whichever is the greater. One painter attached to the release device
required by paragraph (7)(g) shall be placed at the forward end of
the lifeboat and the other shall be firmly secured at or near the
bow of the lifeboat ready for use;
(viii) two hatchets, one at each end of the lifeboat;
(ix) watertight receptacles containing a total
of 3 l of fresh water for each person the lifeboat is
permitted to accommodate, of which 1 l per person may
be replaced by a de-salting apparatus capable of producing an equal
amount of fresh water in two days;
(x) a rustproof dipper with lanyard;
(xi) a rustproof graduated drinking vessel;
(xii) a food ration totalling not less than 10,000
kJ for each person the lifeboat is permitted to accommodate; these
rations shall be kept in airtight packaging and be stowed in a watertight
(xiii) four rocket parachute flares complying
with the requirements of regulation
(xiv) six hand flares complying with the requirements
of regulation 30;
(xv) two buoyant smoke signals complying with
the requirements of regulation 31;
(xvi) one waterproof electric torch suitable for
Morse signalling together with one spare set of batteries and one
spare bulb in a waterproof container;
(xvii) one daylight signalling mirror with instructions
for its use for signalling to ships and aircraft;
(xviii) one copy of the life-saving signals prescribed
by regulation V/16 of the International Convention for the Safety
of Life at Sea, 1974, on a waterproof card or in a waterproof container;
(xix) one whistle or equivalent sound signal;
(xx) a first-aid outfit in a waterproof case capable
of being closed tightly after use;
(xxi) six doses of anti-seasickness medicine and
one seasickness bag for each person;
(xxii) a jack-knife to be kept attached to the
boat by a lanyard;
(xxiii) three tin-openers;
(xxiv) two buoyant rescue quoits, attached to
not less than 30 m of buoyant line;
(xxv) a manual pump;
(xxvi) one set of fishing tackle;
(xxvii) sufficient tools for minor adjustments
to the engine and its accessories;
(xxviii) portable fire-extinguishing equipment
suitable for extinguishing oil fires;
(xxix) a searchlight capable of effectively illuminating
a light-coloured object at night having a width of 18 m at a distance
of 180 m for a total period of 6 h and of working for not less than
3 h continuously;
(xxx) an efficient radar reflector, unless a survival
craft radar transponder is stowed in the lifeboat;
(xxxi) thermal protective aids complying with
the requirements of regulation 26 sufficient
for 10%, of the number of persons the lifeboat is permitted to accommodate
or two, whichever is greater;
(xxxii) in the case of vessels engaged on voyages
of such a nature and duration that, in the opinion of the Administration,
the items specified in subparagraphs (xii) and (xxvi) are unnecessary,
the Administration may allow these items to be dispensed with.
(9) Lifeboat markings
(a) The dimension of the lifeboat and the number
of persons which it is permitted to accommodate shall be marked on
it in clear permanent characters.
(b) The name and port of registry of the vessel
to which the lifeboat belongs shall be marked on each side of the
lifeboat's bow in block capitals of the Roman alphabet.
(c) Means of identifying the vessel to which the
lifeboat belongs and the number of the lifeboat shall be marked in
such a way that they are, as far as practicable, visible from above.
Figure 1 Seating arrangements