Statutory Alert: Maintenance and survey of steel wire ropes on life-saving appliance slings – issues associated with plastic sheathing Applicability: All shipowners and operators
An incident investigated by the New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has highlighted the importance of correctly maintaining and surveying steel wire ropes, and in particular the issues associated with encasing steel wire ropes in plastic sheathing on life-saving appliance (LSA) slings. The full TAIC report can be found here
SOLAS requirements for maintenance and survey
SOLAS requires that falls used in launching are inspected periodically, and that launching appliances are properly maintained and subject to a thorough examination and operational test during the annual survey. See SOLAS regulation III/20.
Following the thorough examination, some of the more common reasons to discard a wire rope would be:
visible broken wires
change of diameter
damage and corrosion.
Issues caused by using plastic sheathing and recommendations
Encasing steel wire rope in any form of protective covering provides an atmosphere which is likely to promote corrosion and to prevent access for maintenance and survey.
Owners are recommended to review their policy regarding protective coatings on LSA lifting slings, and to ensure that both the vessel and original manufacturer maintenance regime is appropriate. Further guidance can be obtained from the original sling manufacturer if needed.
Guidance on conducting lifeboat drills safely can be found in IMO Circular MSC.1/Circ.1206/Rev.1, available here