What is a Lifeboat?

Lifeboats are shore-based watercraft equipped with lifesaving equipment and rescue personnel. The U.S. Military uses the acronym MLB for Motor Life Boat. Lifeboats are most often manned by coast guard service personnel on a full-time basis. A Standard lifeboat of the United States Coast Guard is forty-seven feet. However, at Station Chatham, a forty-two-foot Lifeboat is used. The forty-seven-foot lifeboat can withstand hurricane force winds and rough seas, with the ability to self right in ten seconds if it should capsize.

Life-Saving Services in the U.S.

The history behind the United States Life Saving Services was derived by a Government Agency that started by local and private humanitarian efforts to rescue and save lives of shipwrecked passengers and mariners in 1948. In 1915 the United States Life Saving Service merged with the Revenue Cutter Service, previously known as the United States Revenue Marine, and formed the United States Coast Guard. However formal Federal involvement began with the signing of the Newell Act in 1848.

The 1854 Great Carolina Hurricane

The East Coast of the United States was hit by a category four hurricane, known as the Great Carolina Hurricane of 1854. Many sailors were killed as the equipment and crew’s training in the life-saving stations was very poor. At that time, the Congress appropriated funds to help rectify this problem. Two Superintendents and a full-time keeper were employed at that time. The active season for life-saving requirements on the East Coast was usually from April until November.

What is the Difference Between a Rescue Boat and a Lifeboat?

A rescue boat is used to rescue survivors that are overboard and get them safely to a ship. A Lifeboat is used to rescue and sustain the lives of survivors.

Types of Lifeboats on Merchant’s Vessels

There are three types of Lifeboats used on merchant’s vessels, an Open Lifeboat, a Closed Lifeboat, and a Free Fall Lifeboat.

These Lifeboats are used on a ship and are one of the most important life-saving equipment a ship can have. The Lifeboats are secured onboard for use in emergencies where the ship must be evacuated.

  • The Open Lifeboat is manually propelled using ores and has no roof. However, a compression ignition engine may be provided. Nowadays, these types of lifeboats are becoming obsolete due to stricter safety regulations.
  • The Closed lifeboat is a more watertight, enclosed type of lifeboat which can withstand strong winds, rougher weather and can protect against sea water. This lifeboat can also become upright on its own if capsized.
  • The Free Fall Lifeboat is very similar to the closed lifeboat, but the launching process is much different and is aerodynamic.

Life Boat Services are a critical component to the health and safety of the general public.