Chances are it's not, says RYA

The RYA is warning boat owners to check that their liferafts comply with recent changes in the UK for Coded Vessel requirements and the RYA’s own policy. The Royal Yachting Association, as a UK Certifying Authority, will no longer accept a Coded Vessel if it is equipped with an ORC liferaft.

 This edict has been adopted ahead of the total enforcement of MGN280, as it is considered that the ORC liferaft falls short of the safety requirements essential for coastal and offshore waters.   With manufacturers now producing newer and safer liferafts for ISAF Regulations and the more recently adopted ISO 9650, it has become appropriate to drop the ORC liferaft, with its inferior safety standards.

Under previous MCA Codes, Certifying Authorities could permit an ORC liferaft for Coded Vessels operating in Area Categories 1, 2, 3, and 4, so long as the vessel carried a SOLAS A or B upgrade grab bag for their correct operation.  The areas have now changed and some fundamental criteria to update the Code have been applied.  These changes may well affect vessels for charter or other commercial use.

Firstly, since July 2004, ORC liferafts have no longer been permitted as hire liferafts for any craft within the Code. Likewise for new vessels just about to go through the Coding process, ORC liferafts will no longer be permitted; you should either carry an ISAF (Appendix A Part 2) or the ISO 9650 Type 1 Part 1, which is an equivalent design.   Both liferafts feature a boarding ramp to allow easier access and other features giving better safety.

 So when could an ORC liferaft be allowed?   In extreme cases would be the short answer.  Fundamentally, it can only be allowed if it has previously been certificated and serviced annually and then only for its serviceable life.  In most cases this will be down to the manufacturer, when the raft comes due for its annual service at an approved service station, which may re-certificate the liferaft, only if it is still fit for purpose.