SYTT Insight: Custom Superyacht Tenders as SOLAS Rescue Vessels

26th May 2019

If you’re not familiar with SOLAS regulations, navigating the rules to ensure a custom superyacht tender is compliant as a rescue vessel can be daunting.  SYTT senior project and sales manager Richard Booth breaks down the basics and offers his top tips.  Time to get geeky….!

Richard commented, “Increasingly SYTT is asked to provide crew and owner-friendly SOLAS tenders as superyachts try and maximise every possible space or combine the functionality of two tenders into one boat.  The technical challenges of using custom tenders as rescue vessels can be complex given the differences in rules and regulations for yachts under 500GT, over 500GT and PYC (over 12 passengers).  In our experience, it saves time and money to have an expert on hand to guide you through the process.”


  • What are the technical requirements that need to be taken into account to incorporate a dual-use custom rescue tender?
  • What are the compromises or considerations to be made? e. garage stowage, lifting, launching/recovery, seating, weight, aesthetics and design?
  • Do these negatively impact the tender? If so, how do we manage owners’ expectations?


  • All lifeboats shall be properly constructed and be stable in a seaway when fully loaded and be able to be launched under all conditions of trim and list up to 20 degrees heel either way. They need to be able to be launched when the ship is doing 5 knots in calm water
  • Boats need to have an automatic self-righting facility and engine be able to be restarted following capsize

Sources: International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), Chapter III, Reg. 4: Evaluation, testing and approval of life-saving appliances and arrangements.  International Life-Saving Appliances Code (LSA), IMO Resolution MSC.218(82) adopted 2006.

Seating capacity:

  • Must carry a minimum of six persons at an average mass of 82.5kgs, all wearing lifejackets that can be seated in a normal position without interfering with the means of propulsion or the operation of the lifeboat’s equipment
  • Boats must also be able to carry five seated persons and a stretcher
  • Boarding has to be able to be done in full in not more than 10 minutes from the time the instruction to board is given

How to get a new SOLAS tender classed?

  • Testing both during build and in the water
  • Ensuring continued compliance
  • Safety equipment required on board
  • Dimensions of current options 3.8-8.5m LOA
  • Boats need to be operable in 1-30 degrees water temp and start in minus 30 degrees air temperature
  • Needs to do at least six knots when fully loaded for 24 hours

Submission: it’s important to gather all the right technical documentation from the very start including paperwork on design, building standard, manufacture, installation and functioning of the boat. A series of inspections will then be done by Class during the build and on final testing.  SYTT can guide you through the details on these reviews and ensure you meet all the requirements.

SOLAS requirements per yacht size:

  • sub 500GT vessels – LY3. Removable orange covers and safety gear
  • over 500GT vessels – full SOLAS requirements
  • PYC (13-36 passengers) vessels – enclosed lifeboats doubling up as limousines. Lifeboats need to be in a continual state of readiness so two crew members can carry out launching in less than five minutes

There are several options for customising tenders to meet the above requirements as well as serving the needs of the mothership. SYTT’s tender project management experts can advise during every step of the design, build, testing and submission process.

Richard’s top tips:

  • If a SOLAS tender is being made to be guest friendly it is immediately a compromise. More often than not a separate SOLAS tender in a locker is an easy option compared to a guest friendly multi-purpose crew/guest boat, but it doesn’t add as much value to the yacht’s day-to-day needs.
  • Always allow more time for a SOLAS build especially if it’s a new project for the shipyard. A custom SOLAS tender build requires a lot of resources and should not be underestimated.
  • SYTT is an independent consultancy that can match the appropriate tender builder to the yacht’s criteria. With so many considerations; budget, build time and requirements it’s easy to get swamped; it’s much easier to have the experts take care of everything.

Contact Richard Booth to find out more about custom superyacht tenders as SOLAS rescue vessels: +44 (0)2380 016363








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SYTT Insight: Custom Superyacht Tenders as SOLAS Rescue Vessels