New IMO requirements on authorized service providers for life-saving appliances

New IMO requirements for the maintenance, examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats is entering into force on 1 January 2020. This statutory news is an updated version of news 22/2017, providing information on the new requirements and guidance on how to ensure compliance.

Technical Regulatory News 18, 2019 - lifeboat

Relevant for ship owners and managers, yards, suppliers and flag states.


According to the IMO Resolution MSC.402(96), from 1 January 2020, maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing overhaul and repair of the following items shall be carried out by authorized service providers*:

  • Lifeboats (including free-fall lifeboats), rescue boats and fast rescue boats
  • Launching appliances as well as on-load and off-load release gear for lifeboats (including primary and secondary means of launching appliances for free-fall lifeboats), rescue boats, fast rescue boats and davit-launched life rafts

Qualification levels

The following inspection intervals are described:

  • Weekly and monthly inspections shall be conducted by authorized service providers, or by shipboard personnel under the direction of a senior ship’s officer in accordance with the maintenance manual(s).
  • Annual thorough examinations and operational tests shall be conducted by certified personnel from either the manufacturer or an authorized service provider*. The service provider may be the ship operator, provided they are authorized.
  • A five-yearly thorough examination, any overhaul, overload operational tests and repairs shall be conducted by certified personnel from either the manufacturer or an authorized service provider. This shall be done in the presence of a DNV GL surveyor.

The scope is further described in the IMO Resolution MSC.402(96), sections 6.1 (general), 6.2 (annual thorough examination and operational tests) and 6.3 (five-yearly thorough examination, overhaul and overload operational tests).

Authorized service provider*

An authorized service provider* is an entity authorized by the flag administration (or its recognized organizations, ROs) in accordance with the requirements given in the IMO Resolution MSC.402(96), section 8. The authorization shall be limited to each make and type** of equipment to be serviced. Flag administrations (or their ROs) will issue the authorization document and ensure that information regarding authorized service providers is made available.

Unless flag administration instructs otherwise, original equipment manufacturers (OEM) are not required to be authorized when acting as service providers for their own equipment, however, their personnel need to be certified. IACS UR Z17 Rev.14 corresponds to IMO Resolution MSC.402(96), so an AoSS (Approval of Service Supplier) certificate referring to IACS UR Z17 Rev.14 would be considered equivalent to one referring to the IMO Resolution MSC.402(96).

Flag administrations may also accept or recognize service providers authorized by other administrations or by their ROs. In cases where a manufacturer is no longer in business or no longer provides technical support, administrations may authorize service providers for the equipment based on prior authorization for the equipment and/or long-term experience and demonstrated expertise as an authorized service provider.

Certification of service personnel

Service personnel shall be certified by the manufacturer or by an authorized service provider for each make and type** of the equipment to be worked on. An authorized service provider can only certify its own personnel (i.e. employed by the same service provider).

Certification of service personnel shall be performed in accordance with a recognized national, international or industry standard as applicable, or a manufacturer’s established certification programme. In either case, the certification process and programme shall comply with requirements of the IMO Resolution MSC.402(96), section 8, for each make and type** of equipment for which service is to be provided.

Upon completion of personnel certification, a certificate shall be issued (by the manufacturer or service provider) defining the level of qualification (annual or five-yearly) and the scope of the certification (i.e. makes and model of equipment). The expiry date shall clearly be stated on the certificate and shall not exceed three years from the date of issuance.

For further clarifications, please refer to the FAQs available in the Appendix of this statutory news as PDF document.

*Please note that IACS Approved Service Suppliers (AoSS) are the same as authorized service providers as defined in the IMO Resolution MSC.402(96).

**The definition of “make and type” is the same as “make and model” mentioned in IACS UR Z17 para 5.1.1 and is understood as the following:

  • Make of equipment: name of equipment’s manufacturer (for example: Beijing Lifesaving Co., Ltd.)
  • Type of equipment: type/model of equipment, or series of equipment if there is no difference in maintenance and examination (for example: LBBJ04T or LBBJ series), but not the kind of equipment such as “lifeboats”

The specification of the model or series in the competency certificate should be left to each manufacturer or service supplier who retains the responsibility for the certification process of service personnel.


  • Approach your regular service suppliers to ensure they are approved for servicing your life-saving appliances, and obtain certificates proving so. Do not wait until annual surveys are due.
  • Ensure compliance with the new requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear.
  • Whenever work required by an authorized service provider is carried out, ensure the following is received:
    • Service report
    • Personnel certificate
    • AoSS certificate proving compliance with the IMO Resolution MSC.402(96) or IACS UR Z17 Rev.14 for the make and type of the on-board equipment

Some flag administrations have specific instructions the vessels flying their flags. Owners, managers and service suppliers shall therefore confirm with their flag administrations if any additional or special requirement apply.


  • FAQs available in the Appendix of this statutory news as PDF document
  • IMO Resolution MSC.402(96): Requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear
  • IMO Resolution MSC.404(96): Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended, containing amendments to SOLAS III/3 and III/20
  • IACS UR Z 17 Rev.14, available at IACS homepage


  • For customers:
    DATE – Direct Access to Technical Experts via My Services on Veracity.
  • Otherwise:
    Use our office locator to find the nearest DNV GL office.
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