FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      CG 28-96
  Monday, December 16, 1996                  Contact: Jack O Dell
                                             Tel.: (202) 267-6491

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 Moulders, Ltd., (UML) Mark III manual- semiautomatic mechanisms when used in combination with the NTG/Leland CO2 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. The following manufacturers have informed the Coast Guard of affected models and would like owners of these models to call:

  Manufacturer/PFD Name       Telephone Number    PFD Model Numbers
  Lifesaving Systems/Pro-Lite (813) 645-2748      481-AO, 481-AN
  Mustang/CrewFit             (800) 526-0532      C10171, C11601,     
                                                  C10173, C11603 
                                                  (with harness)
                                                  C10014, C10019
                                                  (recharge kits)     
  Sporting Lives/SOSpenders   (800) 858-5876      120A, 120AH, 123A
  Stearns/Secumar             (800) 783-2767      1140, 1150
  Survival Technologies/Techvest(800) 525-2747         B01322, B01325,
  Survival Technologies/Techfloat                 and B01615
The Coast Guard urged owners of Techvests and Techfloats to check their model number against those listed because Survival Technologies coats its cylinders and NTG is not visible on the cylinders.

The list includes only information that has been provided by manufacturers. As a result, the Coast Guard noted that manufacturers not listed may have inflatable PFDs with this inflator-cylinder combination and urged owners of inflatable PFDs to check their equipment for this combination of inflator and cylinder.

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.

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