OEM maintenance of davit systems for SOLAS compliance can mitigate safety and commercial risks, says Vestdavit


Safe and reliable operation of boat-handling systems onboard vessels is dependent on regular inspection and maintenance by qualified technicians both to preserve the integrity and prolong the lifespan of davit equipment. And using rogue service providers to cut corners on cost poses safety and commercial risks as it can endanger lives as well as impact operations, according to Vestdavit.

Davits have a variety of applications on different vessels across several ship segments, from release of lifeboats on cruise ships and merchant vessels, to deployment of workboats from offshore support vessels and launch-and-recovery of rapid response craft used for naval missions.

The common denominator for all these applications is that human lives are at stake and boats carrying passengers or personnel must be deployed from davits in variable sea states in a safe and responsible manner to minimise risk both to people and other assets onboard.

“Davit maintenance is therefore an essential safety factor that should not be taken lightly. Just like an elevator in a building, service work should be entrusted to trained and certified technicians from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to safeguard life,” says Magnar Bøyum, Managing Director of Dutch subsidiary Vestdavit BV.

Shipping companies are required by SOLAS regulations to perform annual and five-yearly services of davit systems that should be conducted by “certified personnel of either the manufacturer or an authorised service provider”, as dictated by IMO Resolution MSC.402(96) that covers requirements for maintenance, testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launch appliances and release gear. This regime also envisages the use of genuine fully tested spare parts for repairs.

The resolution, implemented in 2020, was earlier adopted by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee in response to a succession of accidents, detentions and losses over recent decades due to failures of on-load release mechanisms, inadequate maintenance of lifeboats and launching equipment, unsafe practices and design faults, among other factors.

The amendment to SOLAS regulations relating to operational readiness, maintenance and inspections sought to address these issues by establishing a uniform, safe and documented standard with specific procedures for periodic servicing of davit systems.

However, Bøyum believes the shipping industry still has a way to go to live up to this standard, highlighting the fact that vessel operators may select lower-cost rogue service providers with technicians that apparently have the required certification but actually lack the necessary competence to perform highly specialised davit maintenance work.