The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, MCA, is the agency solely responsible for implementing the United Kingdom's maritime safety policy. It provides search and rescue services on the sea and enforce the ship safety policies. One of these policies covers the safety equipment, including life rafts that must be carried by ships.
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Life rafts must be stored in a Glass Reinforced Polyester, or GRP, container designed to protect the life raft and emergency packs. The GRP container must be located on the safety deck or in another open space that is easily accessible. Each container must have hydrostatic releases that allows the life raft to float free off the ship and to self-inflate.
Each ship -- less than 85 feet long, or with lifeboats -- situated near the life rafts on either side of the ship must be sufficient life raft capacity for all passengers if one raft becomes unusable. If the ship has lifeboat capacity for every passenger on each side of the ship and one lifeboat becomes unusable, enough life raft capacity should be available to carry the excess passengers. Life rafts may be transferred from side to side provided that the transfer can be completed within five minutes. A raft that can carry 15 people should be able to be moved by two people and a raft that can carry more than 15 people should be able to be moved by four people.
GRP containers must be equipped with an emergency pack in addition to the life raft. Short Range Yachts, which operate within 60 miles of a safe haven, must carry a SOLAS B Pack. Other ships must carry a SOLAS A Pack. Both SOLAS packs must have a raft repair kit, pump, paddles, a first aid kit and other emergency equipment. A SOLAS A Pack also carries can openers, a drinking cup, fishing kit, flares, rocket and smoke signals, food and water provisions per person. A SOLAS B Pack carries hand flares, rocket signals and smoke signals.
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