The lifeboat engine is an important piece of equipment that is used for propelling the lifeboat and sailing to a safe point when abandoned ship order is given by the master. The lifeboat engine is usually a single or twin-cylinder engine that uses diesel as fuel for operation.



  • Every lifeboat shall be powered by a compression ignition engine. No engine shall be used for any lifeboat if its fuel has a flashpoint of 43°C or less (closed cup test).
  • The engine shall be provided with either a manual starting system or a power starting system with two independent rechargeable energy sources.
  • All the necessary starting aids shall be readily available in the lifeboat.
  • The engine starting systems (including the aid) shall start the engine at an ambient temperature of -15°C within 2 min of commencing the start procedure.
  • The starting systems shall not be impeded by the engine casing, seating, or other obstructions.
  • The speed of a lifeboat when proceeding ahead in calm water, when loaded with its full complement of persons and equipment and with all engine-powered auxiliary equipment in operation, shall be at least 6 knots and at least 2 knots when towing a 25-person life-raft loaded with its full complement of persons and equipment or its equivalent.
  • Sufficient fuel, suitable for use throughout the temperature range expected in the area in which the ship operates, shall be provided to run the fully loaded lifeboat at 6 knots for a period of not less than 24 h.
  • Instructions for starting and operating the engine shall be provided and mounted in a conspicuous place near the engine starting control   


Lifeboat engine setup

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