The USCG is banned from using “essential night-vision technology” because they are part of Homeland Security, not the Department of Defense. Hopefully they can get this straightened out and get on with their marine safety mission.
Ever since the Coast Guard was moved over to Homeland Security their marine safety mission has taken a back seat to pushing paper. This has to be frustrating for all involved and dangerous for those who depend on their services.
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Zero One Film, Pandora Films, Illusion Film & Television, The Film Farm, N279 Entertainment.
Mystery, Thriller, Western.
‘Brimstone’ is a movie genre Mystery, was released in January 12, 2017. Martin Koolhoven was directed this movie and starring by Guy Pearce. This movie tell story about In the menacing inferno of the old American West, Liz is a genuine survivor who is hunted by a vengeful preacher for a crime she didn’t commit.
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When will the cost of servicing your life raft quit increasing? Probably no time soon if a recent service bulletin we received is any indication. While this only applies to commercial (USCG approved) life rafts it won’t be long before others follow suit.
Our service procedures are governed by both the raft manufacturer and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). The USCG sets minimum standards but a manufacturer could exceed those should they wish. For instance the USCG says that a raft with a SOLAS A equipment pack must have at least 4 red parachute flares but a manufacturer could say it must have 5. In cases like this we are required to adopt the most restrictive standard (5 parachute flares).
So what just changed? A few years ago the standard for dated items such as food, water, flares and batteries was that if the item was in date the day the raft was packed, it would be acceptable until the raft’s next servicing. Then things changed and items had to have at least 6 months of service life left at time of servicing. This did not make a huge difference in service cost since flares, the most expensive item in the equipment pack, come with a 42 month service life. This allowed most customers to get a full 3 years out of their flare kit.
Now we are required to ensure that all dated items have enough service life to last to the raft’s next servicing. For USCG approved rafts this means 12 months but there are other flag states that allow a longer interval between servicing. Most times now flares will have to be replaced after 2 years and most items with a 5 year service life will need to be replaced at 4 years.
You might ask why has this happened? Most regulations regarding commercial safety equipment start at the International Maritime Orginization (IMO). Once the IMO sets a standard it is then up to the member states (in our case the U.S.) to adopt these standards. The other option is the raft manufacturers could adopt the standard as part of their service manuals which is what happened in this case. Since the requirement is more restrictive we are required to comply.
The major benefit will be increased revenue for the raft manufacturers. We are required to purchase our parts from them so the more parts we have to change, the more money they make. My take on this is it is not a safety issue, just added profit.
Sadly there is nothing you or I can do. IMO is controlled by European members who tend to listen to their manufacturing industry. The two major life raft manufacturers are based in Europe so they have great influence on decisions IMO makes. In the long run life rafts might become a disposable item, use them for 2 years and when they are ready for their first service, buy a new one. The problem then becomes how do you get rid of the hazardous material out of your 2 year old raft?
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A Coast Guard spokesman said “a lot of people don’t wear life jackets because they don’t have intention of being in water”. Still that guy Murphy with his “law” which always seems to be true says differently.
A couple found out the hard way, spending 14 hours treading water before they were rescued. No life jackets, no signaling devices but a whole bunch of luck and the will to live got them rescued. One might argue that they didn’t need life jackets since they survived but I don’t think I could tread water for 14 hours (not sure I could for 1 hour), so wear a life jacket.
I use to sell inflatable life jackets but got out of that line of business when I found we were not making money at it due to competition. Customers still ask what they should purchase and my advise is quite simple:
Try them on and find one that is comfortable to wear for you. Every brand has a different cut, some fit women better, some are better for skinny guys and some are just damned uncomfortable for everyone. If it is not comfortable, you won’t wear it.
Get a model that is approved in the country your boat is registered in. If you are a Canadian, that means Canadian approved models which generally are not available in the United States.
If you boat anywhere but a small lake, get a vest with around 35 pounds of buoyancy. These vests are sometimes called “offshore”. The added flotation will help keep your head out of the water.
Buy a model that once inflated does not require you to don the vest. I am not a fan of belt pack models and there have been cases where the victim was not able to properly don the vest and ended up dying.
You will note that I have not mentioned if the vest should auto inflate or not, that depends on your situation. The three brands of inflators we see in North America; Halkey Roberts, Hammar and Secumar all produce excellent products so I feel the comfort of the vest is much more important than what inflation system that particular manufacturer decided to use.
If you need help with rearm kits, that is something I carry and would love your business.
Reading the Tacoma newspaper this morning there was an article titled “Why do so many die in ferry accidents?”. Yesterday I received a link from a trade association I belong to for a USA Today article about out of water survival craft. The gist of the USA Today article is that our government had passed a law requiring that passenger carrying vessels provide survival craft that will allow victims to get out of the water, thus increasing their chance of survival.
Like everything else the government implements, there is a cost to industry for this added level of safety and industry has pushed back. Their argument is that there are not the statistics showing that the cost would really save any lives.
Many passenger carrying vessels have “life floats” like the image above. They allow one to hang on to something but don’t get you out of the water. Inflatable Buoyant Apparatuses, IBA’s, currently provide the best combination of capacity, weight and cost.
Victims can get out of the water and stay together for easier rescue. IBA’s work well with evacuation systems so everyone can get off the vessel in a hurry. In the overall scheme of things they are not overly expensive but not working for a company with passenger carrying vessels I can not comment on how the added expense would impact their bottom line.
The U.S. Coast Guard 17th District in Alaska created a voluntary program that allows a vessel operator to advertise that they carry additional safety equipment, above and beyond what is required. The vessel can obtain a rating of 1 to 5 stars, thus it is called the 5-Star Safety Program, where 1 star is granted just for complying with the existing regulations. With the 5-Star Program a vessel owner has an incentive to carry more and better safety equipment since they can use the rating as a sales tool. Granted this program only works because of competition between vessels for passengers. If you were operating a vessel in an area with no competition you might decide there are better ways to get additional business (passengers) and as a business person you have to look at the effectiveness of your investments.
So, what can we do? Voting with ones wallet always works especially if there are options and one carries better safety equipment. Write to Congress if that is your thing. Most importantly be aware of what equipment the vessel has to offer. Take a minute, look around and figure out what you (and your family) would do if there was an accident. They ask us to do just that every time we board a commercial aircraft and while many don’t listen after the hundredth time they have heard the announcement, most of what is said has become ingrained in our memory and hopefully would pop to the front if needed.
Plan for a disaster, that is something we teach and it is a good, free start.