Sep 23

MAIB Safety Alert - Liferaft Servicing and Certification Concerns

MAIB Safety Alert – Investigation of the Foundering of Fishing Vessel Piedras on 1 June 2022

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has contacted the UK Chamber of Shipping to share the initial findings of its investigation into the loss of the UK registered fishing vessel Piedras (FD 528).  The investigation has raised serious concerns about the servicing and certification of the vessel’s liferafts.



At around 0600 on 1 June 2022, the crew of Piedras discovered an ingress of water in the engine room, which they were unable to stem, and the decision was taken to abandon the vessel. The port liferaft failed to inflate. However, the starboard liferaft successfully deployed, from which the crew were subsequently rescued. At 1234, Piedras capsized and sank approximately 78nm off the south-west coast of Ireland.


Piedras’s port liferaft was operated manually but it did not initially inflate correctly and was later seen to have inverted and partially inflated; it subsequently drifted away and has not been recovered. Although the starboard liferaft deployed correctly, on examination it was found to contain expired SOLAS packs, specifically:

  • the first aid kit had not been replaced since it was supplied in 2007;
  • the liferaft repair kit had expired in September 2008;
  • the torch batteries had expired in January 2010;
  • all of the pyrotechnics had expired in March 2010; and
  • all of the food and water supplies had expired in January 2012.

Piedras’s liferafts had been serviced by Comfer Marin S.L. (service station No.50826), an authorised service station for Deutsche Schlauchboot (DSB) GmbH liferafts, and certificates confirmed that both were in date for inspection. However, evidence shows that the starboard liferaft had not been correctly serviced since its manufacture in March 2007, despite having been routinely certified by Comfer Marin SL.

Further investigation by the equipment manufacturer discovered that several other liferafts certified by Comfer Marin SL had not been correctly serviced over a number of years and that the correct operation of these liferafts could not be assured. There is a risk that DSB liferafts certified by the service station Comfer Marin SL in Marin, Spain, may might not function correctly when deployed.

The MAIB has issued the following recommendations to Survitec:

2022/129 Ensure that the corrective actions identified during the audit of its authorised service station 375, in July 2022, are verified as completed and that there is an appropriate level of oversight to confirm that the future servicing of liferafts by this station is rigorous and in accordance with statutory requirements.

2022/130 Take urgent action, as appropriate, to provide assurance that all liferafts serviced by the authorised service station 375 within the past 5 years are fully functional and comply with statutory requirements. This should include informing all affected customers of the potential risks that their liferafts may not be compliant and of any immediate actions required to ensure their effectiveness.

Survitec Group Limited has:

  • Conducted an audit of Comfer Marin SL in July 2022 and subsequently terminated its approval to act as a Survitec liferaft servicing provider.
  • Issued Survitec Alert Service Bulletin 13/22 – A LR 07 liferaft: Immediate recall of liferafts serviced by Comfer Marin SL – dated 17 November 2022 to its approved service stations to effect the immediate recall of the 230 liferafts that had been certified by Comfer Marin SL over the preceding 5 years.

The Spanish Authorities have confirmed that Comfer Marin SL is no longer authorised to operate as a liferaft inspection/ service station, and that they are attempting to identify affected vessel owners and operators.

The MAIB, despite the actions by Survitec and others, remains concerned that some affected owners/operators of vessels with DSB liferafts serviced by Comfer Marin SL might be unaware that their vessels are carrying potentially defective liferafts.

All vessel owners and operators that have had DSB liferafts certified by the service station Comfer Marin SL during the period 1 January 2017 to 30 June 2022 are recommended to:

S2023/104M Immediately contact their nearest approved Survitec liferaft service station to arrange for the liferafts to be urgently reinspected and serviced to ensure they are fully functional and comply with statutory requirements.

Issued August 2023 - Safety recommendations shall in no case create a presumption of blame or liability