Safer in Recovery from the Water


The primary occurrence of lifeboat accidents is during the Recovery Process. The recovery process is the most dangerous time when using a lifeboat. The recovery process should be designed to be as safe as possible.

The three steps of the recovery process are outlined below together with the personnel involved. The table shows a comparison of using a single cable capsule or a twin-fall lifeboat which clearly shows the enhanced safety in recovery of a single cable capsule.


(1) Getting in Position

The helmsman is the individual responsible for getting the lifeboat in position. With a single cable capsule he has good maneuverability and only has to be in the right location for one hook. With a twin-fall the maneuverability is far more restrictive and he has to get in the right location for two hooks. the helmsman job of getting in position is far easier and safer with a single cable capsule.

(2) Hooking Up

When hooking up the responsibility now move from the helmsman to the hook up personnel. With the single cable capsule this is one individual who has good access which has been specifically designed to make this job as safe as possible.


With a twin-fall capsule this job needs to be performed by two individuals. The access to the hook up is usually far more awkward than shown in the capsule above. Additionally it should be noted that involving two individuals doubles the danger of an incorrect hook up.

(3) Beginning the Lift

When the lift begins control moves back to the helmsman. With a single cable hook up the helmsman can see the hook and he can see that a good hook up has been performed. He has line of sight visibility to the hook up person and to the hook to confirm that a good hook up has been made before beginning the lift.

With a twin-fall system the helmsman usually has limited visibility of the hook up personnel and cannot see the hooks to check the final hook up before the lift begins. More emphasis is placed on the hook up personnel with a twin-fall system as their task cannot be confirmed by the helmsman. Note also that these personnel are typically less trained than the helmsman.