In today’s post, we will discuss immersion suit SOLAS requirements, including key aspects such as carriage requirements, monthly and annual inspections, donning instruction posters, test kits, lubricating jelly, leak tests, light requirements, markings, and relevant MSC circulars.
Though immersion suits are vital personal safety equipment on ships, the officers responsible for inspecting life-saving appliances often neglect to perform thorough checks of immersion suits. This neglect poses a dangerous risk to the lives of seafarers on board.
That’s why it’s crucial to undergo proper training, regularly practice drills, and conduct thorough inspections of your immersion suit to ensure it remains in good condition and can be relied upon in times of need.
To understand the requirements for immersion suits, maritime professionals should refer to the relevant sections in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code, which we will cover below.
If you’re short on time, here are some brief summary notes that cover the key points. However, for a more in-depth understanding of immersion suit SOLAS requirements, I recommend reading the full article as I have mentioned all the regulations as per SOLAS.
Immersion Suit SOLAS Requirement
Immersion suits must be made of waterproof material such that;
- It can be put on without assistance within 2 minutes, including the time to don any associated clothing and a lifejacket.
- It will not burn or melt after being fully engulfed in fire for 2 seconds.
- It will cover the entire body except the face, and hands should be covered or attached with separate hand gloves.
- The suit must minimize excess air in the leg areas and prevent significant water ingress after jumping from a height of at least 4.5 meters into the water.
Immersion suits which can be worn with or without lifejacket shall meet following requirements
- Lift the exhausted or unconscious person’s mouth to a minimum height of 120mm above the water.
- Automatically turn the person from facing downward to upward in 5 seconds or less in fresh water.
- The Immersion Suit shall permit a person to:
– Climb up and down a vertical ladder that is at least 5 meters in length.
– Perform normal duties associated with abandonment.
– Jump from a height of no less than 4.5 meters into the water without damaging or dislodging the immersion suit or risking injury.
– Swim a short distance through the water and board a survival craft.
Immersion Suit with inbuilt buoyancy (Life Jacket Not Required)
- In this type of immersion suit, life jackets are not required to be worn.
- A suit with built-in buoyancy should meet the requirements of a lifejacket.
- Has light and whistle if worn without lifejacket
- provided with a releasable buoyant line or other way to attach to another person’s suit in the water (buddy line).
- it should have a means to lift the wearer out of the water into a rescue boat.
Immersion Suits Needing Lifejackets
- In this type of immersion suit, life jackets are to be worn above the suit.
- Person able to don life jackets without assistance.
- Immersion suits should be clearly marked to show they must be worn together with life jackets.
Insulated and Non-Insulated Immersion Suits (includes both with or without life jackets)
Non-Insulated Immersion Suits
- Non-insulated suits must be clearly marked to wear with warm clothes.
- When wearing the immersion suit for one hour in calm, circulating water at 5°C (41°F), the suit should prevent the wearer’s core body temperature from decreasing by more than 2°C (around 3.6°F).
Insulated Immersion Suits
- After being in calm, circulating water between 0°C and 2°C (32°F – 35°F) for 6 hours while wearing the suit, the wearer’s core body temperature should not decrease by more than 2°C (about 3.6°F).
What is immersion suit?
- As per SOLAS Ch III: Life-saving appliances and arrangements, regulation 3.7 “Immersion Suit is a protective suit which reduces the body heat loss of a person wearing it in cold water”.
In the unlikely event that you find yourself in a situation where abandoning your ship or entering cold waters becomes necessary, donning an immersion suit becomes imperative.
These specialized suits play a crucial role in minimizing the loss of your body’s heat, thereby safeguarding your core temperature which increases your chances of surviving until help arrives.
Immersion Suit Carriage Requirement As Per SOLAS
- SOLAS Chapter. III/ Part B – Requirements for ships and life-saving appliances / Section I – Passenger Ships and Cargo Ships
Regulation 7.3; Immersion Suits and Anti-Exposure Suits.
An immersion suit, complying with the requirements of section 2.3 of the Code or an anti-exposure suit complying with section 2.4 of the Code, of an appropriate size, shall be provided for every person assigned to crew the rescue boat or assigned to the marine evacuation system party. If the ship is constantly engaged in warm climates* where, in the opinion of the Administration thermal protection is unnecessary, this protective clothing need not be carried.
In the above paragraph, the word “CODE” is used. “CODE” refers to the LSA Code, or Life-Saving Appliances Code. We will see what is mentioned in the LSA Code for sections 2.3 and 2.4 (2.4 is for Anti Exposure suit what we are not covering in this article)
LSA Code, Chapter 2 – Personal Life Saving Appliances, 2.3 – Immersion Suits (Page 15)
2.3 Immersion suits
2.3.1 General requirements for immersion suits
220.127.116.11 An immersion suit shall be constructed with waterproof materials such that:
- it can be unpacked and donned without assistance within 2 min, taking into account donning of any associated clothing, donning of a lifejacket if the immersion suit is to be worn in conjunction with a lifejacket to meet the requirements of paragraph 18.104.22.168, and inflation of orally inflatable chambers if fitted;*
(Refer to paragraph 3.1.3 of the Revised Recommendation on testing of life-saving appliances (resolution MSC.81(70), as amended).
- it will not sustain burning or continue melting after being totally enveloped in a fire for a period of 2 s;
- it will cover the whole body with the exception of the face, except that covering for the hands may be provided by separate gloves which shall be permanently attached to the suit;
- it is provided with arrangements to minimize or reduce free air in the legs of the suit; and
- following a jump from a height of not less than 4.5 m into the water there is no undue ingress of water into the suit.
22.214.171.124 An immersion suit on its own, or worn in conjunction with a lifejacket if necessary, shall have sufficient buoyancy and stability in calm fresh water to:
- lift the mouth of an exhausted or unconscious person clear of the water by not less than 120 mm; and
- allow the wearer to turn from a face-down to a face-up position in not more than 5 s.
126.96.36.199 An immersion suit shall permit the person wearing it, and also wearing a lifejacket if the immersion suit is to be worn in conjunction with a lifejacket, to:
- climb up and down a vertical ladder at least 5 m in length;
- perform normal duties associated with abandonment;
- jump from a height of not less than 4.5 m into the water without damaging or dislodging the immersion suit or its attachments, or being injured; and
- swim a short distance through the water and board a survival craft.
188.8.131.52 An immersion suit which has buoyancy and is designed to be worn without a lifejacket shall be fitted with a light complying with the requirements of paragraph 2.2.3 and the whistle prescribed by paragraph 184.108.40.206.
220.127.116.11 An immersion suit which has buoyancy and is designed to be worn without a lifejacket shall be provided with a releasable buoyant line or other means to secure it to a suit worn by another person in the water.
18.104.22.168 An immersion suit which has buoyancy and is designed to be worn without a lifejacket shall be provided with a suitable means to allow a rescuer to lift the wearer from the water into a survival craft or rescue boat.
22.214.171.124 If an immersion suit is to be worn in conjunction with a lifejacket, the lifejacket shall be worn over the immersion suit. Persons wearing such an immersion suit shall be able to don a lifejacket without assistance. The immersion suit shall be marked to indicate that it must be worn in conjunction with a compatible lifejacket.
126.96.36.199 An immersion suit shall have buoyancy which is not reduced by more than 5% after 24 h submersion in fresh water and does not depend on the use of loose granulated materials.
2.3.2 Thermal performance requirements for immersion suits
188.8.131.52 An immersion suit made of material which has no inherent insulation shall be:
- marked with instructions that it must be worn in conjunction with warm clothing; and
- so constructed that, when worn in conjunction with warm clothing, and with a lifejacket if the immersion suit is to be worn with a lifejacket, the immersion suit continues to provide sufficient thermal protection, following one jump by the wearer into the water from a height of 4.5 m, to ensure that when it is worn for a period of 1 h in calm circulating water at a temperature of 5°C, the wearer’s body core temperature does not fall more than 2°C.
184.108.40.206 An immersion suit made of material with inherent insulation, when worn either on its own or with a lifejacket, if the immersion suit is to be worn in conjunction with a lifejacket, shall provide the wearer with sufficient thermal insulation, following one jump into the water from a height of 4.5 m, to ensure that the wearer’s body core temperature does not fall more than 2°C after a period of 6 h immersion in calm circulating water at a temperature of between 0°C and 2°C.
- SOLAS Chapter. III/ Part B – Requirements for ships and life-saving appliances / Section II – Passenger Ships (Additional Requirements)
Regulation 22.4; Immersion Suits and Thermal Protective Aids
4.1 All passenger ships shall carry for each lifeboat on the ship at least three immersion suits complying with the requirements of section 2.3 of the Code and, in addition, a thermal protective aid complying with the requirements of section 2.5 of the Code for every person to be accommodated in the lifeboat and not provided with an immersion suit. These immersion suits and thermal protective aids need not be carried:
.1 for persons to be accommodated in totally or partially enclosed lifeboats; or
.2 if the ship is constantly engaged on voyages in warm climates* where, in the opinion of the Administration, they are unnecessary.
* Refer to Guidelines for the assessment of thermal protection (MSC/Circ.1046).
4.2 The provisions of paragraph 4.1.1 also apply to partially or totally enclosed lifeboats not complying with the requirements of section 4.5 or 4.6 of the Code, provided they are carried on ships constructed before 1 July 1986.
- SOLAS Chapter. III/ Part B – Requirements for ships and life-saving appliances /Section III – Cargo Ships (Additional Requirements)
Regulation 32.3 – Immersion suits
3.1 This paragraph applies to all cargo ships. However, with respect to cargo ships constructed before 1 July 2006, paragraphs 3.2 to 3.5 shall be complied with not later than the first safety equipment survey on or after 1 July 2006.
3.2 An immersion suit of an appropriate size, complying with the requirements of section 2.3 of the Code shall be provided for every person on board the ship. However, for ships other than bulk carriers, as defined in regulation IX/1, these immersion suits need not be required if the ship is constantly engaged on voyages in warm climates* where, in the opinion of the Administration, immersion suits are unnecessary.
* Refer to Guidelines for the assessment of thermal protection (MSC/Circ.1046).
3.3 If a ship has any watch or work stations which are located remotely from the place or places where immersion suits are normally stowed, including remotely located survival craft carried in accordance with regulation 31.1.4, additional immersion suits of an appropriate size shall be provided at these locations for the number of persons normally on watch or working at those locations at any time.
3.4 Immersion suits shall be so placed as to be readily accessible and their position shall be plainly indicated.
3.5 The immersion suits required by this regulation may be used to comply with the requirements of regulation 7.3.
- Section V – Miscellaneous / Regulation 35
3.1 Instructions on Donning of Immersion Suit must be added in Training manual kept in each crew mess room and recreation room or in each crew cabin
- Regulation 31.1.4 – Unified Interpretation
7.2 The area where these remotely located survival craft are stowed should be provided with
- a minimum of TWO immersion suit at embarkation station.
Immersion Suit Instructions from Flag State Administrations
Flag Requirements Circular Australia Refer to Marine Order 25. Website Bahamas Refer to BMA Marine Notice MN085. Website Bahrain Refer to PMA Directive No. SOLAS/10. Website Cayman Islands Refer to Shipping Notice MACI 003/2007 Website Cyprus Refer to Circular No.12/2006 Website Denmark Refer to DMA Circular No.013 Website Gibraltar Refer to Shipping Guidance Notice 021 Website Isle of Man Refer to Manx Shipping Notice MSN 062 Website Liberia Refer to Marine Notice SAF-007 Website Luxembourg Refer to Circular CAM 01/2021 Website Malaysia Refer to MALAYSIAN SHIPPING NOTICE MSN 19/2008 Website Malta Refer to Technical Notice SLS.8 Website Marshall Islands Refer to Marine Notice No.2-011-5 Website Norway Refer to RSR 08-2014 Website Panama Refer to Merchant Marine Circular No.144 Website Singapore Refer to Shipping Circulars No. 31 of 2005 on MPA Website. Website Sri Lanka Refer to Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 18/2016 Website Vanuatu Refer to Fleet / Safety Letter 06085.GEN Website
People Also Ask for – Question Related to Immersion Suits
How do you know the number of immersion suits you have onboard?
Answer: The information on the MarineInsight website may not be accurate. To find the exact numbers, you’ll need to check the ship’s certificates:
- For cargo ships, look at the Record of Equipment for Cargo Safety (Form C).
- For passenger ships, check the Record of Equipment for Passenger Ship Safety (Form P).
Take the exact immersion suit numbers listed on the relevant certificate. Then verify that these numbers match what is shown in the ship’s fire and safety plan along with the suit locations. Referring directly to the certificates ensures you have the correct, up-to-date count for the immersion suits onboard.
What is the differences between immersion suit and TPA?
An immersion suit is a full body suit designed to keep you alive and afloat in cold water. It seals around your neck to prevent water from getting in and has built-in buoyancy to keep you floating. Immersion suits provide thermal protection to prevent hypothermia.
A thermal protective aid (TPA) is a more basic version of an immersion suit. It is made of waterproof material and provides some insulation against cold water, but is not designed to turn an unconscious person face-up or keep the wearer fully clear of the water. TPAs give thermal protection only, while immersion suits also provide flotation and water ingress protection.
In summary, immersion suits are more advanced survival suits with buoyancy and water sealing features. TPAs offer thermal insulation only. Immersion suits keep you from drowning if unconscious and provide longer survival time compared to TPAs in cold water.
Immersion suit markings as per SOLAS
SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) requires all immersion suits to have clear markings with the following information:
- Suit manufacturer’s name
- Instructions explaining how to properly don and wear the suit
- The size range for people the suit is suitable for
- Any accessories required for the suit, like gloves, hood, boots
- Approval authority for the suit and its components
- Serial number for identifying the suit
These markings must be in a legible font and located in places where they can be easily seen by the wearer. Having clear markings allows seamless identification, usage and maintenance of immersion suits. Following SOLAS guidelines ensures suits meet safety standards.
Immersion suit donning time as per solas
According to immersion suit regulations, the suit must be capable of being donned without any assistance within 2 minutes total time. This maximum donning time includes putting on any clothing or lifejacket associated with the immersion suit. Having an unassisted donning time of 2 minutes or less ensures the suit can be put on rapidly in an emergency situation before entering the water.
Immersion suit inspection requirements (Monthly).
Immersion suit inspection required as per SOLAS are mentioned in Ch 3, Regulation 20.7 – Monthly Inspection, and an explanation are given in IMO Circular MSC/Circ.1047.
- The immersion suit bag should be in good condition, with clear instructions, and the suit’s type and size should match what is indicated on the bag.
- Ensure that the suit is dry both inside and out. Check for any damage, and make any necessary repairs according to your flag state’s regulations.
- Check that the zipper opens and closes easily.
- If the suit is equipped with an inflatable head support and/or buoyancy ring, check for damage and ensure that it is properly attached. At least quarterly, inflate the head support/buoyancy ring and check for any leaks (this doesn’t apply to integral inflatable life jackets).
- Examine the reflective tape to ensure it is in good condition.
- If there is a whistle and a light, test the whistle and the light operational with expiry date.
- Keep the zipper fully open when returning the suit to the bag.
- During monthly inspections or training, crew members should practice donning the immersion suit.
Immersion suit Annual testing and Inspection requirement as per SOLAS
- Immersion suits should be pressure tested for any leakages every 3 years.
- If the age of the immersion suits is more than 10 years, they should be pressure tested annually.
Which statement about immersion suit is true
- Correct Answer: The immersion suit reduces the rate of body cooling and increases the survival time in cold water to hours or days.
immersion suit can be unpacked and donned within
- Correct Answer: immersion suit can be unpacked and donned within 2 minutes
How many immersion suits should be on board a ship
- There’s no fixed number for the quantity of immersion suits; it depends on the Flag State. However, the minimum SOLAS requirements are as follows.
- All Type of Vessels: For each crew member of the rescue boat (at the discretion of the Flag State – Not required if the vessel only operates in warm climates)
- Cargo Ship:
– For each crew member.
– Except Bulk Carriers, any other ship if constantly trading in warm climate need not to carry upon flag state discretion.
- Passenger Ship:
– At least three for each lifeboat and one TPA for every person to be accommodated in the lifeboat if an immersion suit for all is not provided.
These immersion suits and thermal protective aids need not be carried:
– For persons to be accommodated in totally or partially enclosed lifeboats; or
– If the ship is constantly trading in a warm climate, they need not be carried, subject to the flag state’s discretion.
- Additionally in work or Watch Stations by All Ships:
– remotely located survival craft carried in accordance with regulation 31.1.4, numbers can be based on people normally present on work or work. Ex. Bridge 2 Pcs, ECR 2 Pcs and same for forecastle deck.
In summary, immersion suits are critical personal safety equipment for all seafarers. They can mean the difference between life and death in the event of an emergency at sea.
To ensure immersion suits are fully functional when needed, it is essential that they are properly maintained and tested as required by SOLAS regulations.
Ship operators must pressure test suits every 3 years, with annual testing for suits over 10 years old.
Furthermore, immersion suits should be carefully inspected monthly With proper care and maintenance in accordance with SOLAS guidelines, immersion suits will serve reliably as an indispensable final barrier against hypothermia and drowning.
The safety of crews at sea depends on the readiness of safety equipment like immersion suits. Following SOLAS requirements is the surest way to keep them protected in an emergency.