Mandatory Float-free EPIRBS for domestic commercial vessels from January 2021

From 1 January 2021, most domestic commercial vessels will be required to carry a float-free EPIRB. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) realises that this may not be practical for smaller vessels and is seeking comment from the industry on possible alternatives for vessels less than 7.5m, operating on B or C waters, where the vessel does not have level flotation.

The alternatives proposed include the following –

Option 1 – Carry a float-free EPIRB (activates if submerged 1-4m)
Option 2 – All persons on board must wear a life jacket, a PLB and the vessel must carry a manually activated EPIRB
Option 3 – All persons on board must wear a life jacket and the vessel must carry a manually activated EPIRB
Option 4 – Carry a manually activated EPIRB in or attached to a buoyant storage container

EPIRBS, PLBs and life jackets are well known to the industry, but many people will be left wondering, “What is a buoyant storage container”?

Essentially the container needs to meet the standards for a buoyant device through external testing, be fitted with a handle or lanyard and be mounted in a position where it is float-free and readily accessible.

Until recently there has been no piece of equipment that has met these criteria. Life Cell however meets the requirements of a buoyant storage container and is an example of what can be used to satisfy Option 4. Scott Smiles, the inventor of Life Cell, is pleased that the merits of Life Cell are finally being realised in the commercial sector. Scott knows first-hand what it means to be stranded at sea and developed Life Cell as a result of his experience. “Having safety equipment in a float-free buoyant container is essential on any vessel and I have no doubt that the use of Life Cell by the domestic commercial fleet will save lives”.

In addition to meeting the criteria for float-free EPIRBs, Life Cell can also be used to store other marine safety equipment so that it is all located in one place and easy to access in an emergency. Life Cells can support between 1 – 4 people depending on the size and can replace other forms on mandatory buoyancy but not life buoys.

Life Cells are fuel, fire, UV and impact resistant and have been built to the highest standards. More information on the on the commercial use of Life Cells can be found on the Life Cell website.

The deadline for submissions is Thursday 28th February and can be accessed via the AMSA website.

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