Safety First: Testing Lifeboat #2 In Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Life Ring

While at anchor in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Lifeboat #2 got put to the test. 

Don’t worry, it was not an emergency.   Alarms did not sound.  There was no cause for concern. 

Instead, cadets were treated to a unique learning experience that will stay with them throughout their careers at sea.

lifeboat # 2 closeup
Although Lifeboat #2 has a capacity of 76 people, only a small group of cadets and crew members were aboard during the testing.

lifeboat #2 wide
This is how Lifeboat #2 appears when it is secured on the deck of the ship.

Although all our cadets learned how to launch a lifeboat during their Vessel Familiarization & Lifeboat Safety class, nothing could compare with watching the process unfold from the deck of the TS Kennedy

A small group of cadets and crew members had an opportunity to climb aboard Lifeboat #2 for the demonstration. On a pleasure craft, passengers have an opportunity to select their favorite seat and spread out to relax.  This certainly is not the case during an emergency evacuation.   On a lifeboat, each passenger is assigned to a specific, narrow seat.  Immediately upon sitting down, passengers buckle their nylon safety belt to secure them in place. 

cadet inside lifeboat
inside lifeboat
The headrests are designed to protect the head as the lifeboat is being tossed around.

Crew members and 1/C rates on the deck of the TS Kennedy answered questions as the davit system slowly lowered the lifeboat down the side of the ship.  Cadets leaned over the railings, watching in awe as the orange vessel was released and splashed into the sapphire blue water.  They heard the roar of the lifeboat’s engine and watched it steer away from the ship.

lifeboat lowered
lowering lifeboat
lowering lifeboat
This is a unique perspective!  The photo was from inside the lifeboat as it was being lowered.

Click on the link below to watch a short video clip of the lifeboat being lowered.

Lifeboat #2 - First Video:

From the Helo Deck, several cadets commented that the tiny lifeboat resembled a toy.  Others were reminded of a video game as they watched the orange tub weave back and forth.  Click on the links to below to watch brief video clips of Lifeboat #2 moving around in the ocean.

cadets wave to lifeboat

Lifeboat #2 - Second Video:

Lifeboat #2 - Third Video:

Aboard the lifeboat, cadets were trying to soak up every bit of the unique opportunity they had been granted.  They looked around at the equipment carried onboard and noted where the emergency rations were stored.  

emergency rations
The rations are stored in a compartment under the seats.  

emergency rations
The vacuum packed food bars have a shelf life of five years.  They are peanut-free and non thirst-provoking.  Each bar has 200 calories.  They are packed with energy and are ready to eat.  

emergency rations
emergency rations
emergency ration in hand
I am holding an expired emergency ration bar in my hand.  It was rock hard.  I banged it on my desk and it didn't break.  I was so tempted to taste it so that I could tell you all about it, but I just didn't dare.  The bars are not tasty like Cliff Bars and Power Bars, and they do not come in a variety of flavors.  They are high in vitamins to keep passengers alive until they are rescued.  

They mentioned that the lifeboat did not handle quite as smoothly as the pleasure boats that they were accustomed to riding in back home. Crew members pointed out that lifeboats are designed to quickly move passengers away from a sinking or burning ship, not to transport them many miles back to shore.  It is not necessary for a lifeboat to provide a smooth, comfortable ride.  The focus is on saving lives, not luxury. 

Cadets commented that the interior of lifeboat was dark.  Small windows were the only source of light.  Because the weather outside was picture-perfect, the roof hatch over the helm was opened, allowing the helmsman to stick his head out and look around.  The cadets were reminded that in most emergency situations, the hatch would remain shut so that the vessel could maintain its watertight integrity.  They would not have fresh breezes of salt air drifting into the lifeboat.  It was impossible not to notice the pulsating noise of the engine.

steering lifeboat
lifeboat window
This hatch was opened during the testing.  It would remain secure during an actual emergency.

Soon it was time to raise the lifeboat and secure it at its station on deck.  Cadets who had remained aboard the TS Kennedy, gathered to observe the process.  They were eager to speak to the lifeboat passengers and hear about their experiences.

Whether they were on deck or in the lifeboat, all the cadets walked away with a renewed appreciation, respect, and understanding of the eight enclosed lifeboat aboard the TS Kennedy.  Although they hope that they will never have to abandon ship, the cadets feel comforted knowing that lifeboats will help save their lives in an emergency.

instructions for raising and lowering lifeboat

Want to feel like you are aboard the TS Kennedy watching the Anchor Drill?  Check out this outstanding narrated video.

During Orientation, cadet candidates are expected to memorize the long list of items that are found on a lifeboat.   Want to give it a try?  Click on the link below.

Would you like to put your science and mathematics skills to the test?  Give our Lifeboat Challenge a try!  This activity is ideal for participants of all ages - from PreK to grade 12.  Click on the link below.

We invite students in grade 3-5 to tackle Lifeboat Mathematics.  Click on the link below.

We welcome photos of outstanding examples of student work.  Teachers and parents may email photos and student work samples to 

We also welcome video clips of students taking part in the Lifeboat Challenge.