The incident on board the cruiseship Thomson Majesty has raised important questions about the role that crew play during lifeboat drills.
One former accident investigator says the cause of the incident was probably mechanical and may be due to the on-load release hook not being set properly, or to a problem with the davits.
Lifeboat falls are to be replaced every four years. In between, the wires must also be end-for-ended — taken out and the ends switched — to even out and reduce wear and tear, and be replaced sooner if necessary.
In the case of Thomson Majesty, if an investigation finds the fault was in the cable, the maintenance of the lifeboat will be brought into question.
If the fault is found to be the release hook, it may be that the cruiseship had not yet replaced its hooks with a system that meets the new regulations.
In that case, the incident may throw into question the 2019 deadline.
However, another issue stems from deployment of crew during lifeboat drills.
The International Maritime Organization has guidelines on lifeboat drills on whether crew should be in a boat being lowered to the waterline or returned into its davits, which state that raising and lowering can take place while the craft is empty.
The fact that five crew died and three were injured implies that there were crew in the boat, one expert suggests.
The expert also pointed out guidelines that advise that boats should be empty when being raised or lowered do not send a good signal to crew and passengers about lifeboat safety.