Boat launches and recoveries in high sea states are among the most dangerous activities a boat’s crew are likely to encounter. Any of a nervous disposition will feel no more confident knowing that the entire davit weight relies on the performance of a single metal hook.
Unsurprisingly, the hooks used to engage the lifting and lowering davit are closely regulated and need to be certified to international safety standards. However, the Safety of Life at Sea Convention is a minimum requirement and, in heavy seas when the mothership is in motion, a swinging sling-mounted hook can be a hazardous thing.
One option that has been gaining traction, and which is favoured by Vestdavit, is the ‘hook-in-boat’ solutions. For this option, the hook is a feature of the boat rather than the lifting gear and can be attached to the (lighter weight) lifting ring and davit wire. Vestdavit believes that the solution makes sense for safety and efficiency reasons, but also that the advantages go beyond that part of the operation where the lifting wire in coupled/decoupled.
One of the riskiest things that can happen during boat lowering is for the painter line keeping the boat parallel to the ship’s hull to be released before the lifting hook. Depending on the sea state and the speed of the ship, a mothership towing a boat by its lifting hook alone can lead to catastrophic consequences. If, however, both the lifting and painter hooks are in-boat rather than part of the lifting equipment, actuations can be integrated so that it is not possible to release the painter line hook first, until the crew is ready.
Hook-in-boat solutions are available in mechanical versions, where the painter hook can be unlatched using a release bar, or with electric ‘push button’ actuators, where in-boat cabling can be of lower complexity and less prone to damage than comparable crane-hook cabling.
Either way, when hook-in-boat solutions are selected, crews do not need to risk their safety by struggling to detach the crane-mounted boat hook in heavy seas, while boat release can be achieved remotely and more efficiently by fewer personnel.
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