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Alert 10 - The Operation of a Water Jet Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat and Boat Safety Equipment

This alert is to advise potential users of Water Jet Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats of safety issues arising from incidents within the Comcare jurisdiction.


A Water Jet Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (WJRHIB) uses a boat hull with an inflatable collar around its upper structure. The WJRHIB has a propulsion system that intakes water and pushes it out under pressure, providing forward power. Directional control is achieved by manipulating the flow of water through the jet nozzle. Comcare has recently responded to specific safety issues relating to this type of boat and its safety equipment.

Safety issues

  • Manually initiated self-righting equipment—consists of a gas cylinder and inflation bag. In the event of capsize, a manually operated handle is pulled to release the gas from the cylinder into an air bag which results in the capsized vessel being righted. In a small number of cases the manually operated handle for the self-righting equipment has failed to activate.

  • Forward speed—in a number of incidents WJRHIB have been operated below the recommended speed through the water. It is believed this low forward speed is one factor that contributed to capsize during operations.

  • Use of a ship's boat rope and underway transfer of personnel or equipment—in a small number of incidents the WJRHIB have been operated below the recommended forward speed when tethered, at its bow, by a boat rope. The action of the underway WJRHIB connecting to, laying back or applying its weight to the boat rope is believed to be a factor contributing to capsize.    

Control measures

1. Routinely check any self-righting equipment fitted to any vessel.

2. Review and where necessary amend operating procedures for the use of WJRHIBs specifically regarding:

  • forward speed through water
  • the use of a boat rope during underway activities or in strong currents or high tidal streams.

3. Review hazard identification and risk management procedures for the operation of WJRHIBs.

4. Review current training procedures for the use of WJRHIBs to reflect issues outlined above.

Further information

Please contact Comcare’s Work Safety team on 1300 366 979 or via email:


Page last updated: 04 Nov 2013