VIKING Life-Saving Equipment has published a ‘Buyer’s Guide to Immersion Suits’, which not only helps ship operators make informed purchasing decisions but also brings attention to the long term implications of new SOLAS immersion suit regulations for cargo ships sailing in cold climates. By the summer of 2006 some 35,000 cargo ships normally carrying just three immersion suits will need to have suits for the total number of persons the ship is licensed to carry as well as extra suits placed in remote locations. It appears that some ship operators are unsure what the new SOLAS regulations entail and how they will be affected.
From 1 July 2006, immersion suits must be provided for every person on board according to the ship’s manning instructions. Before Resolution MSC 152(78) was adopted in May 2004, normally only three suits were needed, for the ‘man overboard’ boat crew. Additionally, if a ship has any watch or work stations away from the locations where immersion suits are normally stowed, extra suits need to be provided in these areas. VIKING anticipates that the amendment will affect some 35,000 vessels, although immersion suits are deemed unnecessary if a ship spends all its time in warm climates.