In our Know Your Ship blog with Sentini Marine, we cover a range of topics about keeping yourself and others safe onboard. Topics range from fire fighting to dealing with medical emergencies. In this article, it’s all about firing a rocket parachute flare. 

Scenarios where firing a rocket flare is necessary on a superyacht seems so implausible: sinking, a major fire, danger to life. But it is this misguided feeling of, ‘it’s never going to happen’, that reduces the safety culture onboard and makes a major incident even more likely to happen.

*Please note that in this article, we are using the model: Pains Wessex, Red Parachute Signal Rocket, MK8A. Other manufacturer/models may vary. Always consult the operating instructions printed on the flare itself before operating.

What’s A Rocket Flare Used For?

Rocket parachute flares are used to indicate a vessel is in distress, they may not show the exact location of the vessel, but they are used to attract attention.

This is why they should only be used if another vessel, or inhabited land, is nearby, and they should ideally be fired in pairs to ensure that the need for help is understood.

Operating A Rocket Parachute Flare

WARNING: Never point the flare at another person or look into the end of it if it doesn’t fire. And never fire in the vicinity of rescue helicopters.

Step 1: Take a parachute flare from its storage location and move outside onto the leeward side of the vessel/survival craft.

Step 2: Hold the flare firmly by the ribbed handle with the yellow arrows pointing upwards.

Step 3: Unscrew the red bottom cap.

Step 4: Hold the rocket vertically above your head and point away from your body ensuring your hands remain clear of the top.

Step 5: To fire the rocket, pull sharply down on the red ball (ignition line).

For a closer look on procedure, check out this video:

Things To Consider

  • Do you know where the rocket flares are stored on the boat you work on?
  • Would you feel confident to fire one?
  • Do you know the difference between a rocket flare and a red hand-held flare?
  • Do you know where to find detailed operating instructions for the brand of flares used on the boat you work on?

Attracting attention is essential to staying alive, especially if you are in a life raft! Rough seas and driving rain aren’t the ideal conditions for reading the small print on the side of a flare. Familiarity with the vessel you work on and its life saving equipment, is essential, don’t be passive about it. Your safety, and the safety of your crew mates, is your responsibility.

Sentini Marine supply bespoke Technical Operating Manuals and training to both the commercial shipping world and private yachts.

Find them on their website here:

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