One of the fun parts of servicing life rafts is seeing what comes in different rafts. Over the years a favorite has been the manual out of Zodiac life rafts built for the French market.
First we learn how to kill a seagull with a really graphic drawing. I guess the hat, shirt and pants outfit are required to do this properly. In order to clean up after preparing our meal, Zodiac teaches us how to prepare a bath,
again not what I would expect in a life raft manual. Still it is better to be prepared and this manual is really one of the best I have seen. It is 128 pages long printed on A4 size paper (similar to our letter size) so there is a ton of information for those stuck in a life raft as long as they are able to read French. I wish there was a version in English.
I was reading an article today from NPR regarding Zodiac inflatable boats. As most of us remember, Zodiac was a French company and they built their boats (and life rafts) in France. Now it seems that a US competitor has asked why Zodiac can manufacture boats in France out of non-US components. They cited the Berry Amendment which requires that the US Military uses fabrics and clothing that are domestically produced. I would not have thought that inflatable boats would have been considered a fabric product but with further consideration I can see why Zodiac was forced to open a plant in the US to build the goods they sell to the military.
When I started selling straps and buckles I kept reading that a product was “Berry Compliant” and not knowing what that entailed used good old Google to check it out. The whole amendment is online at: https://dap.dau.mil/acquipedia/Pages/ArticleDetails.aspx?aid=be528c25-b648-4797-99b0-ff27ba7ce75b
Talking with our webbing and buckle suppliers I have learned that they do produce product here in the US for sale to the military. As the price of fuel has increased they have actually moved some of their overseas production back home (to get around shipping costs) which is great news for our economy. If they get a bunch of military orders they can move production back offshore and if military sales dwindle more commercial goods will be produced here. It is really good to hear that products can be produced in the United States at competitive prices. Hopefully Zodiac will expand their production in Maryland and employ more US workers.