Accession Number:



Disorientation in Helicopter Ditching and Rigid Inflatable Boat Capsizement: Training is Essential to Save Crews

Descriptive Note:

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



This paper discusses the disorientation problems of escape from a rigid inflatable boat RIB that has been capsized. It makes comparisons with executing a ditched helicopter underwater escape and emphasizes the need for realistic training for both RIB and helicopter crafts. Although very poor records are collected on RIB capsizements, each year there is a small but significant loss of life and many close calls. A paper at the Royal Institute of Naval Architects in 1998, reported 13 deaths from an accident involving the Sea Gem in 1965, but gave no further details Reference 5. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada reported the case of the G.R. 1 FRC Reference 3 launched from the Gordon Reid off British Columbia, which grounded and flung the three occupants over the rocks and back into the water. Miraculously, all three survived. Rigid inflatable boats or fast rescue crafts FRC are used by every Navy in the world, as well as many other paramilitary and commercial marine organizations. In 1998, it was reported that the US Coast Guard alone operated over 700 FRCs Reference 5. To date, no one has examined the problem of escape from such a vessel after it has been capsized, although Oakley has examined the pros and cons of wearing head protection while operating small, fast boats Reference 2. This paper discusses a recent experiment conducted by Survival Systems to examine the problems of underwater escape from a capsized FRC.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Stress Physiology
  • Marine Engineering

Distribution Statement: