The problem with defective lifebuoys which fill with water after the foam in them has collapsed is larger than first envisaged. All the signs indicate that it is the manufacturing method which causes the problem. We are aware of three types and makes in which the foam has collapsed. According to unconfirmed information, there may be up to eight makes showing similar deficiencies.
A good method of checking the lifebuoys on a ship is as follows:
1. Check whether there is a sloshing sound or water dripping from the shell.
2. Check whether there are any sounds when the lifebuoy is shaken.
3. If the answer to one or two is positive, the foam has probably collapsed.
4. Locate the injection hole where the foam was sprayed in. It is usually under of one of the reflectors.
5. Check whether the lifebuoy is filled with foam.
6. If the lifebuoy is not filled with foam, fill it up with water.
7. Weigh the lifebuoy.
8. Pour out the water and re-weigh the lifebuoy.
9. Compare the two weights. If the difference is more than 400 g the lifebuoy must be replaced.
When the ship inspectors from the Swedish Transport Agency are onboard, they will check whether the lifebuoys have been tested. If not, they must be tested and approved before a certificate will be signed or renewed. This only applies to lifebuoys of the type or make that have a potential risk of absorbing water.
Refer also to the maritime department’s safety alert.
SFu Safety Alert 20091210