1. International Maritime Organization (IMO) during MSC 102 adopted Resolution MSC.481 (102) on the revised use and fitting of retro-reflective materials on life-saving appliances. This resolution supersedes resolution A.658 (16).
2. The original resolution (A.658 (16) ‘Use and fitting of retro-reflective materials on life-saving appliances’) requires the use of carbon arc testers for the accelerated weathering test for retro-reflective materials. However, new technologies are progressively replacing the carbon arc lamps making their use for testing increasingly difficult.
3. The revised resolution (MSC. 481(102)) allows for new and emerging technologies to be used for accelerated weathering tests for retro-reflective materials. Alternative light sources other than a carbon arc may be used and exposure times for such sources to give an equivalent degree of accelerated weathering.
4. Annex 1 of the Resolution MSC. 481 (102) provides following revised recommendation on the use and fitting of retro-reflective materials on lifesaving appliances:
1. Lifeboats and Rescue boats:
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, as follows;
a. for detection by horizontal light beams - at suitable intervals at half the height between the gunwale and the top of the fixed cover.
b. 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; and
c. on the bottom of lifeboats and rescue boats which are not self-righting.
a. Retro-reflective materials should be fitted around the canopy of the liferaft. 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) at a suitable height above the waterline, doorways included, if suitable. On inflatable liferafts, retro-reflective materials should also be fitted to the underside of the floor, cross-shaped in the centre. The dimension of the cross should be half the diameter of the liferaft, and a similar cross should be applied to the top of the canopy.
b. On liferafts which are not equipped with canopies, materials which should be sufficiently wide and long (to give a minimum area of 150 cm2) should be attached to the buoyancy chamber at suitable intervals (approximately 80 cm from centre to centre), in such a manner that they are visible both from the air and from a ship.
Retro-reflective materials of a sufficient width (approximately 5 cm) should be applied around or on both sides of the body of the lifebuoy at four evenly-spaced points.
4. Buoyant apparatus:
Buoyant apparatus should be fitted with retro-reflective materials in the same manner as liferafts without canopies, always depending on the size and shape of the object. Such materials should be visible both from the air and from a ship.
Lifejackets should be fitted with patches of retro-reflective materials with a total area of at least 400 cm2 distributed so as to be useful for search from air and surface craft from all directions. In the case of a reversible lifejacket, the arrangement should be complied with no matter which way the lifejacket is put on. Such materials should be placed as high up on the lifejacket as possible.
6. Immersion suits:
a. Immersion suits should be fitted with patches of retro-reflective material with a total area of at least 400 cm2 distributed so as to be useful for search from air and surface craft from all directions.
b. For an immersion suit that does not automatically turn the wearer face up, the back of the suit should be fitted with retro-reflective material with a total area of at least 100 cm2.
5. Annex 2 of the Resolution MSC. 481 (102) provides technical specification for retro-reflective materials for use on life-saving appliances to be considered by Administrations as a standard for retro-reflective materials, the application of which will contribute to keeping life-saving appliances at the high level of quality required;
6. Ship owners/ operators, masters, manufacturer & service supplier of Life Saving Appliances and other concerned stake holders are advised to be guided by above.
This Technical Circular and the material contained in it is provided only for the purpose of supplying current information to the reader and not as an advice to be relied upon by any person. While we have taken utmost care to be as factual as possible, readers/ users are advised to verify the exact text and content of the Regulation from the original source/ issuing Authority.