Maritime Safety Equipment

We’ve been talking about the importance of life jackets this week, but watercrafts are required to be equipped with other safety devices too. Missing or defective safety equipment typically constitutes negligence and may also be considered an unseaworthy condition.

Recreational and commercial vessels should have at a minimum:

  • One USCG-approved immersion suit or personal flotation device for each person aboard
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Navigation lights
  • Visual distress signal, such as flares or smoke
  • A horn, whistle or other sound-producing device

Additionally, depending on the type, length and location of a vessel, it may also be required to have:

  • A throwable flotation device
  • Multiple fire extinguishers
  • Natural ventilation or an exhaust blower
  • Backfire flame arrestor
  • Marine sanitation equipment
  • Life rafts

Congress passed a law in 2010 which will require most commercial passenger vessels to carry life rafts that keep passengers completely out of the water, thus protecting them from hypothermia. This includes ferries, dinner-cruise vessels, tour and whale-watching boats, and charter fishing vessels. Barring any changes to the law, non-exempt vessels are required to be in compliance by January 2015.

In addition to having proper safety equipment, vessels also need to have functioning communication equipment, usually a marine VHF radio. In the event of a fire, collision or other maritime accident, crewmembers must be able to call for help. Otherwise, lives could be lost.

When owner/operator negligence or a vessel’s unseaworthiness results in serious injuries or death, victims may be entitled to compensation under maritime law. If a maritime accident injured you or killed your loved one, visit our website to learn why you need a Boston maritime attorney, and call us at (800) 392-6072 for a free consultation.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers