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Guest Column: Clarification of Survival Craft Requirements

Here is a link to those current requirements: The existing survival craft requirements can be very confusing because they vary according to vessel type, distance offshore, time of year, people onboard, etc. The bottom line is that the owner must provide a “Coast Guard Approved” survival craft for his vessel that is listed in 46 CFR Part 28.120 and accommodates all the crew onboard. Every type of “Coast Guard Approved” survival craft will have a marking that identifies it as C.G. approved. For inflatable liferafts those numbers will read either 160.051 or 160.151. The difference is that 160.151 liferafts are SOLAS approved. SOLAS is an international standard that stands for Safety of Life at Sea. SOLAS will not be marked on rafts with less than 6-person capacity. Rafts designated as SOLAS A or SOLAS B simply identify what type of survival pack is included with the vessel. “SOLAS A” packs are for vessels that operate more than 50 miles from shore and have more survival equipment in the pack i.e., water, food, medical supplies, etc. SOLAS B pack liferafts are for F/Vs that operate between 20-50 miles from shore. Liferafts with less than 6-person capacity are equipped with either A or B packs because they can’t be SOLAS-approved. If you are confused by the many choices or what ifs, the best thing to do is to talk with your local Coast Guard examiner or contact our District Office.

Questions concerning survival craft requirements on commercial fishing vessels may be directed to the First Coast Guard District Prevention Division:

Ted Harrington, at 617-223-8440 or by email at

Paul Bassick, at 617-223-8315 or by email at

Kevin Plowman at Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, 207-780-3256 or by email at

Questions concerning survival craft type approvals should be directed to the Office of Design and Engineering Standards, at TypeApproval@


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