Inflatable Rescue Boat – An Indispensable Companion for Ships

Seafarers have always been conscientious about safety measures when it comes to navigating the open seas. Rescue boats are an integral part of these safety measures and are used for a variety of applications across the world. Rescue boats can comprise of lifeboats as well as liferafts.

The importance of adequate rescue craft was realized after the disastrous voyage of the Titanic, where over 1500 people died due to lack of sufficient lifeboats. As a result, the SOLAS treaty was launched to prevent loss of life at sea. Over the years, there have been many significant amendments to the principal regulations for lifeboats and boats for rescue operations.

In addition, per the amendments to the SOLAS treaty in 1983, every ship is required to carry enough lifeboats so that every passenger and member of the crew aboard the ship is evacuated safely in case of an emergency. In addition, enough liferafts for an additional 25% of the passenger capacity are to be maintained aboard for all international voyages.

Liferafts are typically used for coastal applications as stringent safety norms prevent their use in deep seas. Offshore and ocean liferafts are designed to be sturdier and protect the occupants from rough weather, with survival kits for up to a maximum of 30 days. On the other hand, modern rescue lifeboats are deployed for deep-sea voyages and are equipped with emergency beacons and rescue transponders for safe navigation.

There are two types of rescue boats in common use today :

  • Inflatable Rescue Boat
  • Rigid Hull Rescue Boat

Inflatable Rescue Boat

As is evident from the name, inflatable rescue boats consist of tubes that can be pumped with air to float in water. They have an outboard motor at one end to traverse the waves.

Fig: Inflatable Rescue Boat

There are several advantages of inflatable rescue boats. Some of these include:

  • Quick Deployment, Swift Transport

Inflatable rescue boats can be deployed at lightning fast speeds, have greater maneuverability and have a long life.

  • Enhanced Stability

Inflatables have a flat bottom made of rigid material which keeps the boat stable and prevent it from capsizing.

  • Multiple Applications

Inflatable rescue boats are used in all cargo as well as passenger ships and have numerous applications ranging from emergency rescues, leisure travel, and open-sea fishing, to river-rafting, military, and more.

Rigid Hull Rescue Boat

Rigid hull rescue boats, by virtue of their solid hull have greater stability and easier operation. These boats have excellent performance in terms of speed, efficiency, and durability and are used in a number of applications such as patrolling, rescue, offshore interception, etc.

Specification :

Length 7.4 M/4.7M
GRT 2.8 Tons
Crew Capacity 3 Pax
Hosting Capacity 5 Pax
Approval Indian Navy NCD Specifications

Fig:Rigid Hull Rescue Boat

An Intermediate Solution

Shipping manufacturers have found a way to incorporate the best qualities of the two rescue boats by creating an intermediate solution; the rigid inflatable boat.

A rigid inflatable boat offers advanced stability and a smooth passage, with increased impact resistance. Rigid inflatable boats can be repaired without any trouble and have a high buoyancy, due to which they can support a greater number of people.

The current requirements for all rescue boats on ships include:

  • The length of the rescue boat should not be less than 3.8m or more than 8.5m
  • The boat should be able to seat a minimum of 5 people with an additional provision for a stretcher
  • Each rescue boat needs to be fitted with the appropriate mechanisms for towing and be capable of towing the liferafts on the ship in their full capacity at a minimum speed of 2 knots

Manufacturing Inflatable Rescue Boats

Definite standards have been specified for the manufacturing of lifeboats, with variable length depending on the number of people to be carried, mentioned as follows :

Length Persons
4.20m 6
5.10m 6
5.32m 8
6.25m 15

Leading shipping solution providers in India, like SHM Shipcare, have a slew of options to choose from. When it comes to inflatable rescue boats. SHM’s Rigid Inflatable Boat has a full load capacity of 18 pax and has been designed specially as per the requirements of the Indian Navy.

The Safin 420 Inflatable Rescue Boat is one of the company’s oldest and most reliable offerings and is designed to accommodate stretchers in case of medical emergencies as well.

Inflatable rescue boats are an indivisible part of sea travel and have undergone several modifications over the years to become indispensable companions for ships!

Specification :

Length 4.2m
Breadth 61.8m
Material Hypalon Neoprene (ISO15372-2000)
Full load Capacity 6pax (5+1 Stretcher)
Approval EC/MED Approval as per IMO

Fig : Safin 420 Inflatable Rescue Boat

Gemini Boats are India’s first which comply to the new Navy NCD specification ISO 6185-3:201, and approved by international classification society RIAN.

Specification :

Carrying Capacity 4.4M
Length Over All 4.4M
Beam Over All 1.8M
Tube Dia 450 m.m.
No of Chambers 5 nos. + 1 no.(Inflatable Keel)

Fig : Gemini Boats

Gemini’s are light weight, compact in size when stored, highly durable, and can be launched from all major types of vessels. Their capability of carrying heavy load and highly stable platform are what they are best known for.

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