Antiquated Requirements - Rescue Boat Remote Control Wire

For at least the last 10 years it has been against all companies policies to use “self releasing” mechanisms on davits for lifeboats and rescue boats. These cables are complicated and require special maintenance and at least one further step for completion when a perfect operation is mandatory. Though I was once dropped years ago on a self releasing mechanism by the control cable tangling around the brake release handle, I will concede that there could be a time when it might be necessary.
A rescue boat self release is a whole other topic. When a rescue boat is launched (due to a man overboard or other issue) there would ALWAYS be a person on board to tend the brake. Recently we launched our rescue boat and the small cable became tangled, and we had to spend about 20 minutes untangling before the boat made it to the water. We removed the cable and I called the fleet manager to explain the situation at which point he said he agreed with my logic but said I must reinstall the cable anyway to fulfill class requirements as “that was the way the boat was made”.
As operators tasked with using and maintaining equipment, if something clearly has no advantage and many disadvantages who is “in charge” of demanding these davits work, or to paraphrase a line from “China Syndrome” “ if we don’t know how to run this who does”?

Just to be clear are you talking about the brake release cable and not the mechanism that releases the boat from the falls?

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Class requirements? Most likely statutory. . .

Yes the 1/4” brake cable on a parallel drum to allow 1 man lowering. I don’t think I am the only one who ever fought with this.

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Yes I am talking about the 1/4” aircraft cable pull that lifts the weighted brake handle on a parallel drum to the main cable. The releasing clamp is a whole other conversation also worthy of discussion at some point.

By “rescue boat” are you referring to one of the two enclosed lifeboats which is designated as the “rescue boat”? Or some other type boat?

I think what is being referred to is the rescue boat required where a free fall lifeboat is carried.
An abomination of a craft driven by a 15 hp outboard entirely suited to short harbour excursions.


Hogsnort understands, a rescue boat is a Zodiac or some other small craft, and they usually are marginally seaworthy.

The only time I’ve seen the remote cable tangle with the single fall of a rescue boat is when it’s left free to swing around while the davit is being operated from the deck. When lowering from inside of the boat - by the remote cable, never had an issue. Not sure if I’m missing something, but if it’s there, it’s certainly advisable to use for the reason mentioned.


Also frequently a fiberglass abomination with an inboard diesel driven jet-drive, generally with the turning radius and maneuverability of a fully laden tanker and the reliability of an abandoned Fiat.

Usually a single fall boat is rigged with a painter line forward so you’re not spinning, and the brake release cable should only come off the drum at the rate the falls are paying out. What is it tangling on? And what is the alternative, someone on deck doing a nearly blind lowering?


Fair enough so it is a rough day, someone just fell over the side, you rang the general alarm the wind is gusting to 80 knots and the crew is manning the rails. Off in the distance the small bobbing head is spotted, the Mate on watch is making a Williamson turn to reapproach the victim, the gripes are let go, you and another crew member jump in the boat, and the boatswain man’s the brake. The boat is lowered slowly to the water, your heart is pounding but halfway down you realize oops you forgot to put the self lowering device in the boat and the little cable is a tangled mess that won’t let the boat go down more than 1/2 way so there you are getting smashed against the hill for 10 minutes while someone looks for something to cut the cable with, at which point the man overboard has sunk, the rescue boat is smashed and you are just hoping to get hoisted back up in one piece! All this for defending a piece of gear that is not necessary anyway!!!
My personal experience was on the OSG NEW ORLEANS lifeboat, 14 years ago, we utilized the self release cable, lowered the boat the cable came loose and somehow wrapped around the brake lever causing an uncontrolled drop for maybe 7 feet. Not a calamity but certainly a concern, I think one of the little pulleys broke off. When we were hoisted up the brake lever was bent up and wouldn’t engage.
I was going to report this incident but was told to just fix it as is.
I don’t think that this is an isolated incident and I’m certain that other forum users have better stories than I.
My whole argument is that since it is against company policy to utilize self releasing mechanisms and I can’t think of a necessity for the rescue boat to need it, why is it still necessary to maintain and use this? I promise I don’t have a vendetta or any interest other than to protect you all friends and colleagues from injury.

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The remote control wire, used to operate the brake by a crewmember aboard the boat. Murphy’s law applies. If something can go wrong it will.

If you are launching a Zodiac in 80 knots, make sure you recruited 3 or 4 of the fattest people you can find to ride in it. Just sayin…


Your type of davit?:

Modern rescue boat and davit:


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Launching and Embarkation Appliances

6.1 Launching and embarkation appliances

6.1.1 General requirements A launching appliance shall not depend on any means other than gravity or stored mechanical power which is independent of the ship’s power supplies to launch the survival craft or rescue boat it serves in the fully loaded and equipped condition and also in the light condition.

6.1.2 Launching appliances using falls and a winch The launching mechanism shall be so arranged that it may be actuated by one person from a position on the ship’s deck and, except for secondary launching appliances for free-fall lifeboats, from a position within the survival craft or rescue boat. When launched by a person on the deck, the survival craft or rescue boat shall be visible to that person.

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Why? Standard practice is for the rescue boat crew to lower themselves.

It’s quite necessary, on both rescue boats and life boats (though for different reasons).

Not at most companies.

Just because you can’t think of one doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

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Yea I met Murphy a time or two!!

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Ombugge has pictured the abomination at the top. The rescue boat shown in the lower picture is a a fast rescue boat and is a requirement to be carried on Ro-Ro passenger ferries and offshore standby vessels . Because of the second requirement it will be found on all modern AHTS vessels and because of the nature of their employment on all seismic vessels. Where a fast rescue boat is carried the coxswain must be qualified under STCW.
Because it is used frequently on seismic vessels to transfer personnel to chase boats etc the launching procedures are well practiced and the boat rope is fitted with clips and is very carefully adjusted.
A seismic vessel will always be moving through the water at between 3,5 to 5.5 knots during launching and recovery.


Thank you if during operations a problem is perceived or a glitch in the works could cause a problem I feel compelled to write, otherwise nothing ever could change. I appreciate the efforts you all put in and understand that brilliant minds design amazing machinery, but anyway you want to slice it engineering is a work in progress and this system needs work.
Fortunately we have drills and can fine tune our technique to match requirements but component failure is real and the self releasing cable is the Achilles heel.
Unfortunately all too often regulations are written and blindly followed without looking at the ramifications of component failure or operator error. As I mentioned before this rule is worth revisiting.

Dumb question - if you can’t launch the lifeboat from the lifeboat, whose job is it to launch it? Short straw? New guy?