Note! The Actual Coast Guard Announcement being
discussed here is available on this server.
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Coast Guard today warned of a potential problem with certain unapproved inflatable life jackets. The problem does not exist with inflatable life jackets approved by the Coast Guard. Inflatable life jackets are also known as personal flotation devices or PFDs.
Halkey-Roberts, a manufacturer of inflator mechanisms for the PFD industry, has reported that its manual-automatic mechanisms, Mark II (product number V80000) and Mark III, (product number V83000), when used in combination with carbon dioxide cylinders with a half-inch threaded neck produced by Nippon Tansan Gas Company (NTG) and distributed by either NTG or Leland Limited, sometimes fail to pierce the cylinder when activated automatically by water. The same potential condition holds for United Mouldes, Ltd., (UML) Mark III manual-semiautomatic mechanisms when used in combination with the NTG/Leland C02 cylinder.
According to the Coast Guard, the Halkey-Roberts inflators are not marked with an identifying product number and are made in the color of black only. Likewise, Leland/NTG cylinders are marked "Leland" or "NTG" but may be coated, making the marking invisible.
The Coast Guard emphasized that the products named are not faulty in themselves, but that they may not work well together. No problems have been reported to the Coast Guard in the manual operation of these devices, nor have any problems been reported with these parts when used in combination with other inflators or cylinders.
Consumers who want more information should contact the manufacturers of their inflatable PFDs.
Because the products involved are not Coast Guard-approved, the Coast Guard cannot give authoritative instructions on how they should be handled.
Owners of affected PFDs should be aware that unless the manufacturer is contacted and corrective action is taken, these devices might not provide any flotation unless they are inflated manually.
Coast Guard-approved PFDs are expected to be available to the public before the 1997 boating season begins, and they will be marked with a U.S. Coast Guard approval number starting with 160.076.