- Lifesaving & Fire Safety

Marine Safety Alert: Inspectors discover unwearable PFDs

The Inspections and Compliance Directorate issued Marine Safety Alert 10-19 to raise awareness of a potentially dangerous circumstance involving Cal-June Jim Buoy Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs).

During several inspections involving different vessels, Coast Guard personnel discovered a significant number (>100) of Type I PFDs that were not wearable if needed during an emergency.

Normally, when the wearer dons the type of PFD shown, they grab both sides of the vest to pull them apart and the waistband strap is free to move. (See photographs 1 and 2). The strap will slide through the left side of the PFD. The user is then able to pull it over their head, pass the strap around their body, clip the end to the D-ring, and tighten it.

Inspectors discovered that the strap had not only been secured at its fixed end, but also fused to the side where it should move freely. As a result, the user is unable to separate the halves of the PFD and get it over their head. Inspectors noted what appears to be the PFD’s vinyl coating had adhered the strap to the wearer’s right side of the PFD where it passes through the wearer’s right half of the jacket. (See photographs 3 and 4).

Jim-Buoy Models #601 or #603 (approval numbers 160.055/115/0 and 160.055/116/0, respectively) with both sides of the vinyl that are fused to the straps (or straps that were fused and then pulled out, leaving a hole that exposes foam) are considered NON-COMPLIANT and must be replaced. While defective PFDs have been found marked with lot numbers 1500, 1540, 1550, 1552, 1553, 1554, 1561, 1614, and 1689, we cannot confirm that this is an exhaustive list.

Cal-June has issued a public notice on their website. Contact Cal-June with questions or concerns by calling 1-818-761- 3516 or emailing email@jimbuoy.com.

Because the cause of this defect could not be determined, the Coast Guard strongly recommends that owners and operators that have this type of PFD onboard their vessels inspect each one for this condition. If problematic PFDs are discovered, owners and operators are requested to report their findings to the Coast Guard Office of Design and Engineering Standards at TypeApproval@uscg.mil. Please include the model number(s), lot number(s), and quantity of PFDs found. Additionally, indicate if the vinyl coating had been touched up at any time.

Owners and operators must ensure the required number of usable PFDs are onboard their vessels.

This safety alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational or material requirement. Developed by the Office of Design and Engineering Standards and distributed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis. Questions may be sent to HQS-PF-fldr-CG-INV@uscg.mil.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.