Immersion Suit, Anti Exposure Suit, Thermal Protective Aids

- Apr 21, 2018 -

An immersion suit is a body covering suit that is worn specifically for the purpose of remaining afloat and surviving during emergencies in high seas. This suit is therefore also known as a survival suit or a rescue suit. In today’s times, an immersion suit is one of the most important necessities on ships and oil rigs, considering the protection needed from the hazards of water.

Immersion suits are generally made of neoprene, a type of rubber that is completely waterproof and has an ability to withstand extreme temperatures of water and fire. The immersion suit fits the person’s body without exposing any part to the water. It also has a protective hood to cover the head and comes along with protective gloves.

A rescue suit is designed mainly in two colors – red and orange. Both the colors are kept bright (fluorescent) so that the suits can attract the attention of paramedics or rescue aid immediately.

immersion suit

Credits: wikipedia.org

The following are the SOLAS Regulations for Immersion Suits; to know how many immersion suits are present onboard a ship, one should refer to the “fire control and safety plan”:

  • Each person on board the ship must have his/her own personal immersion suit. Also, extra immersion suits should be provided for the watchkeepers

  • Immersion Suits may be of the kinds that are Insulated, Un-insulated, wearable with life jacket (all should have sufficient buoyancy)

  • Made of waterproof material

  • Internationally RED in color which is highly visible. Note that most other LSA equipment is bright ORANGE

  • The immersion suit should be unpacked and donned within a time frame of 2 minutes without any external help or assistance

  • The individual must be able to jump from a height of at least 4.5 meters into water without injury to life of any damage to the immersion suit

  • The suit should be able to cover the whole body except the face. Hands should be covered unless permanently attached gloves are provided

  • Retro-reflective tapes must be fitted

  • It shall not sustain burning or continue to melt after being totally enveloped in a fire for a period of 2 seconds

  • Normal work must be able to be carried out upon wearing

  • The wearer should be capable of climbing up and down a vertical ladder of at least 5 meters in length

  • The wearer must be able to swim a short distance

  • The immersion suit is worn in cold weather when the temperature is below the freezing point

  • The suit does not allow the body temperature to drop by more than 2 degrees when immersed for a period of 6 hours when the water temperature is between 0 and 2 degrees

  • The wearer of the suit, with or without the lifejacket shall be able to turn from a face down position to a face-up position in not more than 5 seconds

  • If a lifejacket is required along with the immersion suit, then it should be worn over the immersion suit and without assistance

Types of Immersion Suits

There are basically three types of immersion suits. The main types can be described as follows:

  • The first type of a survival suit is something that is worn by fishermen who fish in extremely cold temperatures. These fishermen keep wearing the immersion suit continuously in order to make sure that their bodies do not lose heat and are kept continuously warm and insulated

  • The second type of rescue suit is the one that is kept on all ships, boats and oil rigs. It is a compulsory requirement without which workers cannot be expected to work on the ship or oil rigs. Only at the time of the critical situation, such immersion suits are worn by the workers

  • The third and final type of immersion suit is known as the Inflatable Immersion Suit. But unlike the two previous immersion suits, this rescue suit does not fully cover the person’s body. The inflated suit only covers a person’s hands and legs, thus helping to keep the person afloat and safe in emergency situations. Because of the compactness of the suit, this suit is easier to carry and transport than the previous two suits mentioned

Certain immersion suits are also inbuilt with an emergency torch, a whistle and a tagline that can be attached to the suit of the person who is being rescued. This tagline, also known as the buddy line, is provided to make sure that all the people are together and no person gets lost while in the water.

The technology in the creation and development of an immersion suit has come a long way. In the days to come, there will be even more advancements which will continue to make the application even more successful than what it is at present.

survival suit

Credits: wikipedia.org

Anti-Exposure Suits

To know the number and location of the anti-exposure suits, refer to the “fire control and safety plan”

  • Made of non-flammable and waterproof material

  • International ORANGE in color which is highly visible

  • The suit should be unpacked and donned within 2 minutes without any external help or assistance

  • The suit shall make the wearer capable of jumping from a height of at least 4.5 meters into water without any injury to life or damage to the suit

  • Covers the whole body except the head and hands. Gloves and hood shall be provided for usage with the suit

  • Equipped with a pocket to place the handheld VHF transceiver

  • Has a lateral field of vision of 120 degrees

  • It shall not sustain burning or continue to melt after being totally enveloped in a fire for a period of 2 seconds

  • Normal work must be able to be carried out upon wearing

  • The wearer should be capable of climbing up and down a vertical ladder of at least 5 meters in length

  • The wearer should be able to swim through water for at least 25 meters and board a survival craft

  • The suit does not allow the body temperature to drop by more than 1.5 degrees per hour for the first 30 minutes when the water temperature is 5 degrees

  • The wearer of the suit, with or without the lifejacket shall be able to turn from a face down position to a face-up position in not more than 5 seconds

Thermal Protective Aids

Check the “fire control and safety plan” for the number and location of the TPAs

  • Made of non-flammable and waterproof material

  • International ORAGE in colour that is highly visible

  • TPA should have a thermal conductance of not more than 7800 W/m^2.K

  • The TPA shall reduce the convective and evaporative heat loss from the wearer’s body

  • TPAs should function in air temperature between -30 to +20 degrees

  • The wearer shall be able to remove the TPA in water within 2 minutes if it impairs the wearer’s ability to swim

  • Covers everything but the face

  • The TPAs should be such that they are unpacked and easily donned without assistance in a survival craft or a rescue boat

It is the duty of the third mate to ensure that regular checks are carried out on this imperative equipment to ensure that they function as supposed to if needed under unfortunate circumstances.

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

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