New requirements for authorized service providers regarding life-saving appliances

The IMO has introduced new requirements for the maintenance, examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats.
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Relevant for Shipyards, suppliers, owners/managers, flag states of all ship types.

From 1 January 2020, personnel carrying out maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing overhaul and repair of the following items shall be certified by an authorized service provider:

  • Lifeboats (including free-fall lifeboats), rescue boats and fast rescue boats
  • Launching appliances as well as on-load and off-load release gear for lifeboats, rescue boats, fast rescue boats and davit-launched life rafts

The following inspection intervals are described: 

Weekly and monthly inspections shall be conducted by authorized service providers, or by shipboard personnel under the direction of a senior ship’s officer in accordance with the maintenance manual(s).

Annual thorough examinations and operational tests shall be conducted by certified personnel of either the manufacturer or an authorized service provider. The service provider may be the ship operator, provided they are authorized.

Five-year thorough examination, any overhaul, overload operational tests and repairs shall be conducted by certified personnel of either the manufacturer or an authorized service provider. This shall be done in the presence of a DNV GL surveyor.

The scope is further described in the IMO Resolution MSC.402(96), sections 6.1 (general), 6.2 (annual maintenance) and 6.3 (five yearly maintenance).

An authorized service provider is an entity authorized by the flag administration in accordance with the requirements given in this resolution. The certification programme requires authorization for each make and type of equipment to be provided. It is important to note that the authorization as service provider equally applies to manufacturers when they are acting as authorized service providers. In other words, a service branch of a manufacturer needs to obtain authorization. The authorized service provider will certify their personnel for each make and type of equipment.

Flag administrations will issue the authorization document and ensure that information regarding authorized service providers is made available. Flag administrations may also accept or recognize service providers authorized by other administrations or by their Recognized Organizations. 

In cases where a manufacturer is no longer in business or no longer provides technical support, administrations may authorize other service providers for the equipment based on prior authorization for the equipment and/or long-term experience and demonstrated expertise as an authorized service provider.


Ship managers, owners and shipyards are encouraged to prepare for the new requirements by establishing an overview of authorized service providers in relevant areas prior to the requirement entering into force on 1 January 2020.

References / Appendix

  • Resolution MSC.402(96): Requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear
  • Resolution MSC.404(96): Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended, containing amendments to SOLAS III/3 and III/20

Copies of both can be found in the appendix of the full PDF version available as a download below.


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