Lifeboat Disconnection from Lifting Apparatus at Height

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Alert ID: 
Description of Process: 

The following incident occurred outwith the UKCS.

A routine launch test of a dual davit-launched lifeboat was in operation. This included testing of the centrally operated release mechanism which detaches the lifeboat from the lifting mechanism.

Description of Incident: 

On completion of the launch test, the lifeboat was being recovered to its launching davits.

On reaching a height above the water of approximately 25-30 metres, the lifeboat support point released causing the lifeboat to swing in a pendulum fashion from the forward point. The forward support point then separated, and the lifeboat fell to the sea.

Two persons were within the lifeboat at the time of the fall. Both were fatally injured.

Good Practice Guidance: 

The operator has suspended the following activities, on offshore assets, with immediate effect:

  • All testing involving launching and recovery of lifeboats where the lifeboat is manned
  • All maintenance and training requiring a person or persons to be inside lifeboats, unless the lifeboat is secured in the davits by launch prevention devices such as gripes, maintenance pennants and/or harbour pins inserted at the davits. This includes free-fall launched lifeboats

Where the intention is to test the launch and recovery of these lifeboats when they are unmanned, the operator will transfer personnel to and from the lifeboat when it is waterborne to test the release mechanism.

Causes and consequences of incident or accident: 
Moving, flying or falling object
Fall from height
Contributing factor: 
Control of work


This happened at the end of June outside the UKCS.