Periodic Testing of Immersion Suits and Anti-Exposure Suits

Monthly inspection of IMMERSION SUIT AND ANTI-EXPOSURE SUIT required to be carried as per SOLAS, 
Chp III, Reg 20.7 and 36.1 which as follows:

  • Check closures on storage bag as well as general condition of bag for ease of removal of suit. Ensure donning instructions are legible. Confirm that suit is the type and size identified on the bag.
  • Lay the suit on a clean, flat surface. Make sure the suit is dry inside and out. Visually check for damage. Rips, tears or punctures should be repaired in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions by a suitable repair station.
  • Check the zipper by sliding it up and down to check for ease of operation. Using lubricant recommended by the manufacturer, lubricate the front and back of the zipper and the slide fastener. If the zipper is not functional, the suit should be removed from service and discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a suitable repair station.
  • If fitted, check inflatable head support and/or buoyancy ring for damage and ensure that it is properly attached. Check inflation hose(s) for deterioration. At least quarterly, the head support/buoyancy ring should be inflated and tested for leaks (this test does not apply to integral inflatable lifejackets). Leaks should be repaired in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions by a suitable repair station.
  • Check retro reflective tape for condition and adhesion. Replace if necessary.
  • If fitted, check whistle and expiration date of light and battery.
  • Replace suits in the bag with zippers fully opened.
  • The opportunity should be taken at such monthly inspections for the crew to practise donning the immersion suits or anti-exposure suits.


To ensure the maintenance,  adequate strength and watertightness of seams and closures of immersion suits and anti-exposure suits with age, it is recommended that each suit be subjected to an air pressure test such as the following, at intervals not exceeding three years, or more frequently for suits over ten years of age:


  • Three (3) years for immersion suits which are less than Twelve (12) years of age;
  • Two (2) years for immersion suits which are over Twelve (12) years of age.

  • A suitable head piece, fitted with a means to inject air into the suit, should be inserted into the face orifice of the suit and secured so as to minimize leakage around the face seal. A low-pressure monitoring device, either integral to the fitting for air injection or as a separate device, should also be inserted. If the suit is fitted with detachable gloves and/or boots, the wrists and/or cuffs should be sealed by inserting a short length of suitable diameter plastic pipe and securing the gloves and/or boots with suitable wire ties or hose clamps. The zipper should be fully zipped, and any face flap closed. The suit should then be inflated to a pressure of 0.7 to 1.4 kPa (0.1 to 0.2 psi). If an auxiliary inflatable means of buoyancy is provided, it should be inflated through the oral valve to a pressure of 0.7 kPa (0.1 psi) or until firm to the touch.
  • Each seam and closure of the suit – and each seam, oral tube and attachment points and joint or valve of any auxiliary inflatable means of buoyancy – should then be covered with a soapy water solution containing enough soap to produce bubbles (if leakage is noted at a foot valve to the extent that air pressure cannot be maintained, the valves should be sealed for the test).
  • If leaks are revealed by the propagation of bubbles at seams or closures, the leaking areas should be marked and, after cleaning the suit thoroughly with fresh water and drying it, repaired in accordance with the suit manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • It is recommended that the air pressure test be performed at a suitable shore-based facility equipped to make any necessary repairs in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. In view of the wide variety of materials and adhesives used in immersion suits and anti-exposure suits, it is strongly recommended that any repairs to a suit be carried out by a facility which has access to the original manufacturer’s recommended servicing instructions, parts and adhesives, and suitably trained personnel. The air pressure test may be carried out on board ship if suitable equipment is available.

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