After years of seafarers being injured or killed during lifeboat evacuation drills, the Container Ship Safety Forum e.V. (CSSF) has called for a revolution in the lifeboat design on cargo vessels.
Launched in 2014, CSSF 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.
Despite compliance and training, the act of launching lifeboats remains dangerous, and CSSF believes that innovation is needed to eliminate the risk of accidents. The UK Chamber of Shipping in 2017 identified 60 fatalities during testing of lifeboats over a 10-year period.
“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,” said Aslak Ross, Chairman of the CSSF.
The CSSF has called for the industry, classification societies, flag states and suppliers to launch innovation and replace current lifeboats with a safer technology.
Alternative designs are already available for offshore installations and passenger evacuation, but such systems should also be made available to cargo vessels, the CSSF said. “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 newbuildings – we need to safeguard our seafarers,” added Ross.
The CSSF also encouraged the use of simulation and technology in the training of crews to reduce risk, but emphasized that removing and replacing the hazards are the most effective actions to eliminate risks.