The lifeboat wall of shame

So now you are talking about own experience on a Drillship, not a brief visit to a Korean shipyard.

If this happened the way you describe it reflects very badly on the culture in the company you worked for and the shipyard in Korea that built it, as well as the inspection and regulatory regime by Class, Flag state and, in this case, USCG as the shelf state while working in the GoM.

The manufacturer of the lifeboats, (which presumable was of the freefall type?) has been narrowed down to two, both of which now belong to the same, actually Austrian group.

Since there are very few Drillships with freefall lifeboats and only two of those are owned by an American company, we can also narrow that down to one Owner.

If you, as Master, found the lifeboats to be faulty,did you report that to the flag state? (In this case presumably Marshall Island/ISR) and to USCG on entry into US EEZ?

As I said, I have never seen or heard of any claim that any of the three Norwegian manufacturers of freefall lifeboats had delivered defective boats. ( except the Veslefrikk incident)

May sound stupid to you, but in your original post you appeared to be able to determine thickness by looking at a lifeboat. (X-Ray Vision?)
And yes I do maintain that it is highly unlikely that all Surveyors that have inspected this ship and others with dangerously faulty lifeboats are stupid, incompetent, or on the take.

I have experienced all kinds of lack of knowledge, incompetence and stupidity in the Offshore and Shipping industries that may result in dangerous situation arising and/or gets overlooked, but this does not sound like that.

Neither have I experienced that the entire chain of Owner’s Inspectors, Shipbuilding Managers, Class Surveyors, Statutory Authorities and even Client Inspectors are willing to cover up anything as serious as this. (Individually maybe, but in a concerted effort ??)

I’m surprised that you appears to have joined in the effort as well.

No, no, no, no, NO!

I am not talking about my personal experience. We received MANY complaints from MANY types of ships of several flags built at SEVERAL shipyards. That story is just an example of how the system works… not my personal story.


I really don’t have anything to do with this entire issue.

I, as editor of gCaptain, got a lot of complaints.
I researched the story and talked with lifeboat experts.
I waited to see for myself
I wrote one article about these terrible boats
The manufacturer threatened suit

That’s it.

Why are you making it out like it’s “my problem”? All I did was write one single article.

1 Like

Because @ombugge is responding to what he thinks the posts say, he either doesn’t read or doesn’t make an attempt to understand the posts he responds to.


Yes and that ”individual” is the shipyard!

Unless you want to design and build a ship exactly to the specifications of your own Naval Architects (which costs a lot more $$) then the shipyard holds all the cards.

And nothing is as black or white as you suggest.

Nobody makes demands. No one forces a master to sail with broken equipment. BUT they do all oil the wheels (I’m taking reducing friction not cash payouts) to deliver the ship on time and under budget.

In this game the shipyard holds all the cards.

The shipyard “suggests” which class to pick
The shipyard “suggests” you use their in-house naval architects
The shipyard “suggests” which Flag to fly
The shipyard “suggests” which lifeboat to use
The shipyard “suggests” a local davit company
The shipyard pushes safety equipment suppliers to lower costs
The shipyard washes it’s hands of the matter after the one year warranty runs out.
When someone dies years later the shipyard is never called into court to testify.

Everyone in the process is motivated to lower costs and reduce delivery times.

Norsafe and some of the old Schat-Harding boats have a similar aesthetic. It’s a mix of modern and classically well built. My favorite lifeboat of all time was built in Norway, it was a beast… the boat just looked tough and appealing…like it would survive anything.

But the Norwegian built boat I mention as being terrible didn’t look Norweigan, it had a distinctly Asian aesthetic.

My guess, and this is only a guess, is the boat was designed by a team of in-house shipyard architects (who care deeply about cost and only 1 year of survivability) in Korea and built in Norway on spec.

If the shipyards did send design plans and very detailed build instructions to Norway… I would not blame the Norway company for building exactly what was ordered by their client. The problem comes (And it’s a BIG problem) when the manufacturer stamps their name, certifications and reputation on a shitty design they had nothing to do with.

And this is where I come in. Why would they be upset at a blogger who is not an inspector, does not have any power to arrest a ship, cannot sue them for incompetence?

The only place I can hurt is their reputation. But if their reputation was the only reason why the shipyards picked them (surely they could have it built on spec in China for less) then it becomes a BIG problem when that reputation is challenged.


You misquoted. This is what I said:

And that I stand by.

You raise pretty strong accusations against both fairly easily identifiable Norwegian Lifeboat manufacturers that, even though under new ownership, still exists.
Likewise, you imply that Korean Shipyards are less than honest in their dealings with their clients and supply inferiour 3rd party equipment.

Your guess that the boats were designed by the Koreans and manufactured in Norway does not sound logical.
More likely the boats were designed by the Norwegian company, type approved by all the major Class Societies and NMD, but produced under their supervision, or at their own facilities, in China. With Class approval for each individual boat by whichever Classification Society each vessel is under. At least that is how it is normally done.

I have never heard of any Norwegian manufacturer stamping their name on - and/or lend their certification to - some inferior product designed by others.

But you are right that the Korean business model is to build long series of standard designs, with as much as possible of the machinery and equipment the same and minimum “Owner supplied”. That is why many of the Drillships and Semis would come directly to Singapore for modifications and installation of additional equipment.

Then I have a book written that I’d love for you to read, it’s free to download here:

It’s written by the former head of Naval Architecture at MIT, the top engineering school in the USA… which may not count for much in your mind but does mean it’s well researched with lots of footnotes, evidence and source material for you to find fault with.


Id guess its the other way round. The boat was designed in Norway, to cost, and then built badly under licence in Korea or China, and the builders cut more corners which the Norwegians didnt (want to) find.

1 Like

The Norwegian marine business model is to give the equipment away and then take the piss with the spare parts.

Have you managed to find something cheap in Norway?

You (and others here) have misunderstood me. I’m fully aware of the accomplishment of MIT and the fact that many of the best Universities and Research Institutions in the world are found in USA.

I don’t denige that, or try to belittle everything American, contrary to popular belief, but I try to stick a needle in inflated perceptions of superiority of all things American and the negative attitude to anything foreign. I have lived too long and seen to much to believe that the colour of your passport (or your skin) make any difference to your abilities, or your worth.

Yes I’ll have a look at this book. I notice in the Acknowledgements that there are some familiar names. Even my former boss and mentor, who gave me my first command at the tender age of 27, against all advice that I was too young and inexperienced.

That tankers, bulkers and Container vessels have been built too weak, especially after computers give us the ability to calculate stresses and strength with more accuracy is a known fact.

In 1975 I attended for the sailaway of a brand new rig from a yard in Japan, where I met a “god ol’ boy” who was responsible for the design of that and some of the early offshore rigs, He held the title Dr. Eng. and was educated at MIT, but of the old school.

He told me; “I let those young guys with their fancy computer calculate what thickness THEY think we need, THEN I DOUBLE IT”. (Some oldtimers here may recognize him from that description) Those days are over.

1 Like

Well I happen to agree with you… but what does that have to do with my comments about these lifeboats?

Just last week I published two articles about the use of drones for rescues.

One article praises the efforts of a Norweigan company:

The other blasts the American Coast Guard:

So where is my pro-america bias?

Anyway if you still think that I think my own shit doesn’t stink… well… send me your address and I’ll mail you a sample :wink:


From my experience (in Korea) with regards to “standard design” ships, the shipyard gives the owner a list of equipment. During contract negotiations there are manufacturer options to choose from for some equipment. For example HFO Purifiers; Either Samgong-Mitsubishi or Westfalia (with the Samgong-Mitsubishi being the cheaper option).


Yes you get choices, or you can specify equipment not on their list, but that cost a lot more and may also be delaying delivery.

I believe that this doubling of material thickness of construction components was followed by the US Navy after the loss of the submarine USS Thresher.

I have no recent experience of Chinese Shipyards but early on Mose equipment was owner supplied

No, it wasn’t. Thresher was the lead ship of a class of fourteen, all of which were built and retired after long service. You could not double material thickness in a submarine without increasing its size, as submarines are already mostly sunk while running on the surface and have little margin for error.

In the early days of building ships and rigs in China, nearly all equipment was owner supplied, since there were no quality equipment to be had in China.

When Ocean Rig built 4 bare deck units in Dalian in the 1990’s even some of the steel was imported, since the locally made steel didn’t meet specs. 2 of the hulls were transported to USA and fitted out as MODUs. (They became the Eirk Raude and Leive Erikson), while the other 2 hulls were left in layup at the yard awaiting better times.
After nearly 2 years it was panic, because China demanded customs duty on the steel, unless it was re-exported within 4 years as stated on the import permit.
I was engaged to find a suitable layup point near Singapore, which I did. But they got an extension Panic over.
Another two years and I was asked to find another layup place in Dalian, because the yard wanted them away to clear space at their yard. New plan and new place found, but then they got another suitable layup place in Dalian.

Those two hulls were finally sold to Noble, towed to Singapore and became the Noble Danny Atkins and Noble Jim Day.
I attended while loading that last one on the Blue Marlin in Singapore 2010.
Blue Marlin submerged to her maximum:

Loaded and lifted:

Seafastening in progress:

What happened to the lifeboats?

The ship is your best lifeboat. “Safe return to port” is the new normal:

No problem and no argument about open, closed or freefall.