Davit-Launched vs Throw-Overboard Life Rafts: Understanding the Differences

Life rafts are a critical part of the safety equipment on any sea-going vessel. They come in several types, each designed to suit different types of vessels and situations. In this post, we'll explore two of the most common types: davit-launched and throw-overboard life rafts.

Davit-Launched Life Rafts

Davit-launched life rafts are deployed using a mechanical arm, or davit, which swings the life raft over the side of the vessel and lowers it into the water. Once in the water, the life raft is released from the davit and can be boarded.

These life rafts are typically used on larger vessels that have enough deck space to accommodate the davit system. One key advantage of davit-launched life rafts is that they allow for a more controlled deployment, as the davit system can lower the raft into the water even from a high deck. However, the speed and ease of deployment can depend on factors like the design of the davit system and the conditions at the time.

Ship liferaft - 20-25 - Eurovinil - 8-person / MED / davit-launched
Davit-launched liferaft

Throw-Overboard Life Rafts

Throw-overboard life rafts, on the other hand, are designed to be manually thrown over the side of the vessel. Before the raft is thrown overboard, it's tied to the ship using the painter line. Once the raft hits the water, it automatically inflates. The crew can then board the raft and, once everyone is onboard, cut the painter line to separate the raft from the sinking ship. This is typically done using a knife included in the life raft's equipment pack.

Throw-overboard life rafts are typically smaller and more compact than davit-launched life rafts, making them suitable for vessels with limited deck space.

Launch instructions label

Choosing the Right Life Raft for Your Vessel

The choice between a davit-launched and a throw-overboard life raft depends on a variety of factors, including the size and type of your vessel, the conditions in which you typically operate, and the available deck space.

Larger vessels with sufficient deck space may opt for davit-launched life rafts. These rafts, with their more controlled deployment process, can be beneficial in situations where the raft needs to be lowered from a high deck.

On the other hand, smaller vessels or those with limited deck space might prefer throw-overboard life rafts. These rafts are typically more compact and can be manually deployed.


Whether you opt for a davit-launched or throw-overboard life raft, the most important thing is that you have a reliable, well-maintained life raft on board your vessel. Regular inspections and servicing are essential to ensure that your life raft is ready to perform when it's needed most.

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