Life Cell Marine Safety has received SOLAS certification for its Life Cell throwable buoyancy device, with the product having been approved by Lloyd’s Register under IMO resolution A.580(13) and Life-saving Appliance (LSA) code regulation I/1.2. D. Additionally, the kit has been approved by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and is undergoing US Coast Guard approval.
The Life Cell is designed to function as “a cross between a grab-bag and a lifebuoy”, a spokesperson for Life Cell Marine Safety tells Ship & Boat International. The product was developed by company director Scott Smiles in response to a 2012 accident, when his 12.5m cruiser suffered a fire 10km from the coast, resulting in the boat listing 45degs to stern. Although Smiles and his friend managed to evacuate their 11-year old sons in time, both kids were snared, on separate occasions, by the trolling lure during the incident, shaking them up severely. Ultimately, all four casualties were left clinging to a cooler whilst awaiting emergency assistance.
The Life Cell fulfils two key functions: firstly, it acts as a storage unit for LSAs (EPIRBs, flares / flare gun, air horns, flash lights, whistles, etc), keeping all man overboard (MOB)-related equipment together. Secondly, due to its buoyancy, it can keep MOB casualties together in one spot whilst awaiting help. The Life Cell is fashioned from polyethylene, enabling it to withstand the effects of fire, chemicals, UV and heavy impacts, while closed cell polyurethane foam grants the device its floatability. Marine grade 316 steel has been incorporated into the Life Cell’s hinges and fasteners.
Although the device is designed to be thrown, it will also float off its bracket if submerged. Other notable features include webbing straps, which MOB casualties can use to affix themselves to the Life Cell: this could prove particularly important in preventing individuals from losing their grip and drifting off, especially if they fall unconscious. Similarly, the Life Cell has been designed with a ‘cup holder’-style handle, in which the EPIRB can be securely fixed. This reduces the likelihood of the EPIRB being dropped, either because the MOB casualty has lost consciousness or simply due to their hands becoming numb in the cold.
The Life Cell is available in four sizes: the 400mm (h) x 420mm (w) x 170mm (d) Trailer Boat, for two to four people; the 590mm x 420mm x 170mm Yachtsman, for four people; the 533mm x 559mm x 218mm Trawlerman, designed to assist six casualties; and the 698.5mm x 580mm x 220mm Crewman, for eight persons.