Rescue Boats (SOLAS)
APPROVAL GUIDANCE for RESCUE BOATS (SOLAS)
APPROVAL GUIDANCE & INFORMATION:
The requirements for USCG approved SOLAS rescue boats and fast rescue boats* are contained in Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Subpart 160.156
. USCG approved SOLAS rescue boats and fast rescue boats under approval series 160.156 are primarily evaluated to the standards of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Resolution MSC.48(66), amended, entitled "International Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code", as referenced by the Safety at Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS), Chapter III. Prototype test procedures are found in IMO Resolution MSC.81(70), amended, entitled "Revised Recommendation on Testing of Life-Saving Appliances". These IMO Resolutions, along with their amendments through 2010, are incorporated by reference in 46 CFR 160.156-7, and are published by the IMO in a handbook entitled, "Life-Saving Appliances, 2010 Edition", available for purchase from IMO publication distributors world-wide.
The Coast Guard does not test materials or systems for approval or acceptance but rather specifies the required test methods and minimum performance criteria for either approval or acceptance for installation in USCG approved SOLAS rescue boats and fast rescue boats. See the links below for more information. Product testing in most cases must be performed by a Coast Guard accepted Independent Laboratory, a list of the currently accepted independent laboratories for equipment requiring their involvement for approval is located here: http://cgmix.uscg.mil/EQLabs/
The Coast Guard also maintains standards for domestic (non-SOLAS) rescue boats under 46 CFR 160.056, which are allowed to be carried under certain conditions on vessels with lakes, bays, & sounds, or rivers routes. Please see 46 CFR Part 199, Subpart E.
*SOLAS fast rescue boats are only required on Roll-On/Roll-Off (Ro-Ro) ferries, carrying passengers and their vehicles on international routes. A USCG approved SOLAS fast rescue boat may be installed as a conventional SOLAS rescue boat on vessels other than Ro-Ro passenger ferries when not installed with a fast rescue boat launching appliance.
submit the follow information in the Submittal Package:
- A cover letter requesting Coast Guard Type Approval of the
- Information as required by 46 CFR 160.156-9.
Please send the Submittal Package and other related information to the
U.S. Coast Guard Stop 7509
2703 Martin Luther King Ave Jr SE
Washington, DC 20593-7509
Once the equipment has been approved by this office, it will receive
Coast Guard Type Approval and a Certificate of Approval (COA).
The COA will be issued for 5 years and will remain valid during that
time the period if product meets the testing of the Quality Control
BUOYANCY MATERIALS ACCEPTANCE GUIDELINES
The Coast Guard uses the IMO requirements for acceptance of buoyancy
material for SOLAS lifeboats and rescue boats. These same
materials may be used in some ring buoys, life floats, buoyant
apparatus, and the like. (For some domestic applications,
materials meeting the 46 CFR 160.035 Mil specifications may also be
For acceptance of any material, we must have a full detailed test
report, not just an approval certificate or other certification.
We cannot proceed without the complete report. An accepted
independent laboratory or a ship classification society does NOT need
to witness the tests.
The IMO tests are in section 6.2 of the IMO Recommendation on Testing
We encourage you to use the IMO Test Report Forms for Lifeboat Buoyant
Materials – 4.3.3
BUOYANT MATERIAL, EVALUATION AND TEST REPORT
to report your results.
An acceptable submittal in accordance with the above procedure will be
added to our list of USCG accepted buoyancy material for use in SOLAS
rescue boats and survival craft.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONs:
Q – Will the Coast Guard accept our material based on a Class
or foreign administrations approval/acceptance?
A – No, we do not accept materials based on others’ approval
certificates/documents, unless you submit the complete test report for
the material that was the basis for the acceptance.
Q -- Shall we do a whole new test - following the IMO-recommendation?
A – Yes, if you do not have a complete report from an earlier test, a
complete new test will be required for SOLAS material acceptance.
Q -- Who and where will you recommend the test to be carried out?
A -- The tests may be performed in the manufacturer's lab.
Q -- What is the estimated costs to get the U.S. Coast Guard approval?
A -- There is not a USCG fee at present.
Q -- Can we make foam samples with our own machinery, or shall it be
produced at the boat manufacturer?
A -- You may use your own machinery provided it produces the same
product that boat builders will produce.
Q – Does my report need to be written in English?
A – Yes.
Q – May I run some tests on one batch of material and other test on a
different batch of material?
A -- In general, all the tests should be run on material from the same
batch/lot or better, each test on the same group of batches/lots.
Otherwise there is no way to know how variations in the material are
affecting the results.
Q - What is the difference between diesel fuel and fuel oil?
A – IMO Resolution A.689 has been revised to add the "grades" of oil as
6.2.3 In addition to the test in 6.2.2, specimens of the material
should be immersed in each of the following for a period of 14 days
under a 100 mm head:
.1 two specimens in
.2 two specimens in
marine fuel oil (grade C);
.3 two specimens in
diesel oil (grade A);
.4 two specimens in
high octane petroleum spirit; and
.5 two specimens in
The "grade" ratings do not appear to be any ASTM or other USA
specification but are ISO specifications (refer to ISO standards ISO
8216 and ISO 8217 - Petroleum products). "Bunker C" is a common
terminology used in ships' fuels. We would accept test results
run with Bunker C.
An adequate test report and documentation for approval should include
The testing laboratory shall prepare a complete test report covering
all of the testing done for assessment of the buoyant material.
(This test report shall be kept on file, as long as the acceptance is
in force, and for at least five years after the acceptance is
terminated. The testing facility shall also keep a set of
drawings and specifications describing the material inspected and
tested. The test report, drawings, and specifications shall be
made available on request to the Coast Guard. The test report
The name of the manufacturer.
The name and address of the testing facility or laboratory.
The trade name, product designation (such as model numbers), and a
brief description of the equipment and/or material inspected or tested.
The time, date, and place of each approval inspection and test.
The name and title of each person performing, supervising, and
witnessing the inspections or tests.
The performance data for each test, including a description of each
A description or photographs of the procedures and apparatus used in
the inspections or tests, or a reference to another document that
contains an appropriate description or photographs.
At least one photograph that shows an overall view of the equipment or
material submitted for approval and other photographs that show:
Design details; and
Each occurrence of damage or deformation to the equipment or
material that occurred during the approval tests.
The above list is basically the same as 46 CFR 159.005-11.
SEARCH LIGHTS FOR RESCUE BOATS
These searchlights are required to meet requirements described in the
International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Lifesaving Appliances Code
and Recommendation on Testing of Lifesaving Appliances.
Currently, lifeboat and rescue boat manufacturers are responsible for
making sure that the searchlights they supply with their boats meet
these requirements. Replacement searchlights should be identical
to the original or meet ASTM F1003.
The searchlight must be permanently mounted on the canopy or must have
a stanchion-type or collapsible-type, portable mounting on the canopy.
The mounting must be located to enable operation of the searchlight by
the boat operator. The searchlight's power source must be
capable of operating the light without charging or recharging for not
(a) Three hours of continuous
(b) Six hours total operation when it is operated in cycles of 15
minutes on and 5 minutes off.
If the searchlight's power source is an engine starting battery, there
must be sufficient battery capacity to start the engine at the end of
either operating period specified in A or B, above. The
searchlight's power source must be connected to the searchlight using
watertight electrical fittings.
Retro-reflective materials should be fitted on top of the gunwale as
well as on the outside of the boat as near the gunwale as possible. The
materials should be sufficiently wide and long to give a minimum area
of 150 cm2 and should be spaced at suitable intervals (approximately 80
cm from centre to centre). If a canopy is fitted, it should not be
allowed to obscure the materials fitted on the outside of the boat, and
the top of the canopy should be fitted with retro-reflective materials
similar to those mentioned above and spaced at suitable intervals
(approximately 80 cm centre to centre). In the case of partially
enclosed or totally enclosed lifeboats, such materials should be placed
.1 for detection by horizontal light
beams - at suitable intervals at half the height between the gunwale
and the top of the fixed cover; and
.2 for detection by vertical light beams (e.g. from helicopters) - at
suitable intervals around the outer portion of the horizontal (or
comparable) part of the top of the fixed cover;.3 retro-reflective
materials should also be fitted on the bottom of lifeboats and rescue
boats which are not self-righting.