USCG Lifeboat Requirements: Are your lifeboats up to par?

by | Tuesday, July 8, 2014 |

Lifeboats must meet numerous stringent regulations in order to be in compliance with federal laws. All merchant vessel owners will want to ensure their lifeboats are in compliance with the USCG lifeboat requirements. Below is a brief overview of the requirements, with a list of items that the lifeboat must contain in order to meet the USCG's requirements.

Basic USCG Lifeboat Requirements

The requirements for lifeboats are covered in 33 CFR 149.306. This code provides five general rules for lifeboats:

  1. Lifeboats must be totally enclosed, fire-protected, and approved.
  2. Each lifeboat must be stocked with at the minimal provisions and survival equipment detailed in 46 CFR 108.575(b).
  3. All of the provisions and equipment listed in 46 CFR 108.575(b), save boathooks, must be securely stowed in the lifeboat.
  4. Each lifeboat must contain a list its equipment posted in the lifeboat.
  5. Each lifeboat must carry the manufacturer's instructions for maintenance and repair.

Provisions and Equipment Required for Lifeboats

CFR ยง 108.575 requires that lifeboats carry 41 items on board. They are:

  • bailer;
  • bilge pump;
  • boathook;
  • bucket;
  • can opener;
  • compass;
  • dipper;
  • drinking cup;
  • fire extinguisher;
  • first aid kit;
  • fishing kit;
  • flashlight;
  • hatchet;
  • heaving line;
  • jackknife;
  • ladder;
  • signaling mirror;
  • oars;
  • painter;
  • provision;
  • radar reflector;
  • rainwater collection device;
  • sea anchor;
  • searchlight;
  • seasickness kit;
  • smoke signal;
  • hand flare signals;
  • parachute flare signals;
  • skates and fenders;
  • survival instructions;
  • table of lifesaving signals;
  • thermal protective aid;
  • tool kit;
  • tow line;
  • 3 liters of water for each person; and
  • whistle.

The number of each item required on the lifeboat may vary depending on the number of persons for which the lifeboat is approved, as well as whether it's approved for international or other-than-international service.

The Coast Guard even provides a checklist that manufacturers must meet in order for the lifeboat to be approved for commercial use. If you're purchasing a lifeboat for your vessel, make sure it meets USCG requirements.

To obtain a Coast Guard Type Approval and a Certificate of Approval (COA), a Submittal Package is required. The Submittal Package consists of a cover letter requesting Coast Guard Type Approval of the lifeboat and any information required as per the CG-5214 checklist. After the USCG approves the vessel, the COA will remain valid for five years.

Purchasing Supplies for Your Vessel

To purchase vessel items that you need to ensure your vessel meets federal standards or to study for licensing exams and qualifications, feel free to peruse the Marine Education Textbooks online shop. We carry vessel charts, maps, signage, logbooks and other items for the maritime industry. For questions or to place an order, call (888) 840-1430. You can also order online for your convenience.

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