e-CFR banner


e-CFR Navigation Aids


Simple Search

Advanced Search

 — Boolean

 — Proximity


Search History

Search Tips


Latest Updates

User Info


Agency List

Incorporation By Reference

eCFR logo

Related Resources


Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of February 26, 2020

Title 46Chapter ISubchapter QPart 160 → Subpart 160.048

Title 46: Shipping

Subpart 160.048—Specification for a Buoyant Cushion, Fibrous Glass

§160.048-1   Incorporation by reference.
§160.048-2   Types and sizes.
§160.048-3   Materials.
§160.048-4   Construction and workmanship.
§160.048-5   Inspections and tests.
§160.048-6   Marking.
§160.048-7   Procedure for approval.
§160.048-8   Recognized laboratory.

§160.048-1   Incorporation by reference.

(a) Specifications and Standards. This subpart makes reference to the following documents:

(1) Military specification:

MIL-B-2766—Batt, Fibrous Glass, Lifesaving Equipment.

(2) Federal Specifications:

CCC-C-700G—Cloth, Coated, Vinyl, Coated (Artificial Leather).

CCC-C-426D—Cloth, Cotton Drill.

L-P-375C—Plastic Film, Flexible, Vinyl Chloride.

(3) Federal standard:

No. 751—Stitches, Seams, and Stitchings.

(4) Coast Guard specification:

164.003—Kapok, Processed.

(b) Plan. The following plan, of the issue in effect on the date kapok or fibrous glass buoyant cushions are manufactured, form a part of this subpart:

(1) Coast Guard Dwg. No. 160.048-1.

(c) Copies on File. Copies of the specifications and plan referred to in this section shall be kept on file by the manufacturer, together with the approved plans and certificate of approval. The Coast Guard specification and plan may be obtained upon request from Commandant (CG-ENG), Attn: Office of Design and Engineering Systems, U.S. Coast Guard Stop 7509, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20593-7509, or recognized laboratory. The Federal Specifications and the Federal Standard may be purchased from the Business Service Center, General Services Administration, Washington; DC 20407. The Military Specification may be obtained from the Military Specifications and Standards, Standardization Documents Order Desk, Building 4D, 700 Robbins Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111-5094, https://assist.daps.dla.mil/quicksearch/.

[CGFR 65-37, 30 FR 11583, Sept. 10, 1965, as amended by CGFR 70-143, 35 FR 19962, Dec. 30, 1970; CGD 78-012, 43 FR 27153, 27154, June 22, 1978; USCG-1999-6216, 64 FR 53227, Oct. 1, 1999; USCG-2013-0671, 78 FR 60157, Sept. 30, 2013]

§160.048-2   Types and sizes.

(a) Types. Buoyant cushions shall be of the box type, i.e., have top, bottom and gusset. Pillow type cushions without a gusset are not acceptable.

(b) Sizes. Buoyant cushions shall have not less than 225 square inches top surface area; widths and lengths which fall within the dimensions shown in Tables 160.048-4(c)(1)(i) and 160.048-4(c)(1)(ii); and thickness not less than 2 nor more than 3 inches, the thickness to be considered as the finished width of the gusset between seams.

[CGFR 65-37, 30 FR 11583, Sept. 10, 1965]

§160.048-3   Materials.

(a) General. All components used in the construction of buoyant cushions must meet the applicable requirements of subpart 164.019 of this chapter.

(b) Kapok. The kapok shall be all new material complying with Specification subpart 164.003 of this subchapter and shall be properly processed.

(c) Fibrous glass. The fibrous glass shall comply with the requirements of specification MIL-B-2766.

(d) Cover. Cotton fabrics and coated upholstery cloth meeting the minimum requirements set forth in paragraphs (d) (1) and (2) of this section are acceptable for use as covers for buoyant cushions, but alternate materials will be given special consideration. Pro rata widths of like construction will be acceptable.

(1) Cotton fabrics. Cotton fabrics shall comply with the requirements of Federal Specification CCC-C-426 for Type I, Class 3 material.

(2) Coated upholstery cloth. Coated upholstery cloth shall comply with the requirements of Federal Specification CCC-A-700.

(e) Pad covering. The covering for the buoyant pad inserts shall be flexible vinyl film not less than 0.008 inch in thickness meeting the requirements of Federal Specification L-P-375 for Type I or II, Class 1, film.

(f) Grab straps. The grab straps shall be of materials permitted for the cover, or approved equivalent.

(g) Thread. Each thread must meet the requirements of subpart 164.023 of this chapter. Only one kind of thread may be used in each seam.

(h) Welting. The welting where used may be any fiber or plastic material suitable for the purpose.

[CGFR 65-37, 30 FR 11583, Sept. 10, 1965, as amended by CGD 78-012, 43 FR 27154, June 22, 1978; CGD 84-068, 58 FR 29493, May 20, 1993]

§160.048-4   Construction and workmanship.

(a) General. This specification covers buoyant cushions of the box type filled with kapok or fibrous glass contained in heat-sealed vinyl film pad covers which are inserted in an outer cover fitted with grab straps. The primary purpose of such cushions is to provide buoyancy to aid a person in keeping afloat in the water. No hooks, snaps, or other means shall be included which might facilitate fastening the cushion to a boat. Buoyant cushions shall be of such size and volume as to provide not less than 20 pounds buoyancy when tested in the manner described in §160.048-5(e), but no cushion providing less than 225 square inches of top surface area or measuring less than 2 inches or more than 3 inches in thickness will be acceptable.

(b) Cover. One piece of material each for the top and bottom shall be stitched together to form the cover except that piecing of the cover material will be allowed provided it is for decorative purposes only. Gusset or boxing materials shall be of not more than two pieces. If more than one piece of material is used for the top, bottom, boxing or gusset, they shall be attached by a double row of stitching of the type shown in Federal Standard No. 751, for seam types SSw-2 or LS(b)-2. The top and bottom may be of any of the materials permitted for the cover, but the boxing or gusset shall be a cotton fabric as specified by §160.048-3(c)(1) or other equivalent material of a porous nature. Nonporous materials will not be permitted for the boxing or gusset, but coated upholstery cloth specified by §160.048-3(d)(2), perforated to permit adequate draining and drying will be acceptable.

(c) Buoyant material. Buoyant cushions shall be filled with the minimum amounts of kapok or fibrous glass determined as follows:

(1) Rectangular buoyant cushions 2 inches thick shall be filled with the amounts of kapok or fibrous glass indicated for the various widths and lengths of such cushions by Table 160.048-4(c)(1)(i) or 160.048-4(c)(1)(ii), as applicable. Trapezoidal buoyant cushions 2 inches thick shall be filled with the amounts of kapok or fibrous glass indicated for the various widths and lengths of rectangular buoyant cushions by Table 160.048-4(c)(1)(i) or 160.048-4(c)(1)(ii) as applicable, on the basis that the length of a trapezoidal cushion shall be considered as its average length in each case.

Table 160.048-4(c)(1)(i)—Weight of Kapok (in Ounces) for Filling Rectangular Buoyant Cushions 2 Inches Thick

Length (inches)Width (inches)
12131415161718192021222324Over 24
Over 36(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)

1Determine amount of kapok from formula (1) contained in §160.048-4(c)(2).

Table 160.048-4(c)(1)(ii)—Weight of Fibrous Glass (in Ounces) for Filling Rectangular Buoyant Cushion 2 Inches Thick

Length (inches)Width (inches)
12131415161718192021222324Over 24
Over 36(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)(1)

1Determine amount of fibrous glass from formula (2) contained in §160.048-4(c)(2).

(2) All buoyant cushions more than 2 inches thick, and all buoyant cushions 2 inches thick which are of shapes different from those covered by paragraph (c)(1) of this section, shall be filled with kapok or fibrous glass as determined in the following formulas:

Amount of kapok (ounces) = A × t ÷ 22.5      (1)

Amount of fibrous glass (ounces) = A × t ÷ 12.5      (2)


A = Top surface area of cushion in square inches as determined from measurements taken along finished edges.

t = Thickness of boxing or gusset of finished cushion in inches.

(d) Pad covers for buoyant material. Before being inserted in the outer cover the buoyant material shall be placed in waterproof vinyl film pad covers which shall be heat-sealed tight. The heat-sealed pad seams shall show an adhesion of not less than 8 pounds when one inch strips cut across and perpendicular to the seams are pulled apart at a rate of separation of the clamping jaws of the test machine of 12 inches per minute. Each cushion shall contain not less than four pads and all pads in a cushion shall contain approximately equal portions of the total amount of buoyant material in the cushion. The buoyant material may be inserted directly into the vinyl film pad covers, or may first be packed in bags made of print cloth or other suitable material and then inserted into the vinyl film pad covers. The pads shall be of such size as to adequately fill the outer cover, and prior to sealing, the pads shall be evacuated of air sufficiently that when sat on the pads will not “balloon” excessively because of the pressure in the pad covers. For 15 × 15 × 2 cushions the four vinyl film pad covers shall each be cut approximately 12 wide × 12 long or approximately 8 wide × 18 long shall have a sealed area of approximately 125 square inches; shall contain not less than 5 ounces of kapok or 9 ounces of fibrous glass each; and the volume displacement of the individual heat-sealed pad inserts shall be 512 pounds each, plus or minus 12 pound, when tested in accordance with the method set forth in §160.048-5(e)(1), except that the pad covers shall not be slit open, and the period of submergence shall be only long enough to determine the displacement of the pads.

(e) Grab straps. Grab straps shall be attached as shown on Dwg. No. 160.048-1 and shall finish 20 inches long and 1 inch wide at opposite ends. The grab straps, if formed from cover material shall be folded and stitched together so as to produce a double thickness with raw edges turned under. Other means will be given special consideration.

(f) Seams and stitching. Seams shall be constructed with not less than a 38 inch border between the seam and the edge of the cover materials. All stitching shall be a lock stitch, 7 to 9 stitches per inch, except as follows: Chain stitching 6 to 8 stitches per inch, with 20/4 thread on top and 40/3 thread on the bottom, will be acceptable in constructing straps.

(g) Workmanship. All cushions shall be of first class workmanship and shall be free from defects materially affecting their appearance or serviceability. Cushions classified as “seconds” or “irregular” will not be acceptable under this specification.

[CGFR 65-37, 30 FR 11583, Sept. 10, 1965]

§160.048-5   Inspections and tests.1

1The manufacturer of a personal flotation device must meet 33 CFR 181.701 through 33 CFR 181.705 which require an instruction pamphlet for each device that is sold or offered for sale for use on recreational boats.

(a) General. Manufacturers of listed and labeled buoyant cushions shall maintain quality control of the materials used, manufacturing methods and the finished product so as to meet the applicable requirements, and shall make sufficient inspections and tests of representative samples and components produced to maintain the quality of the finished product. Records of tests conducted by the manufacturer and records of materials, including affidavits by suppliers that applicable requirements are met, entering into construction shall be made available to the recognized laboratory inspector or the Coast Guard inspector, or both, for review upon request. Any examinations, inspections and test which are required by the recognized laboratory for listed and labeled devices produced will be conducted by the laboratory inspector at the place of manufacture or other location at the option of the laboratory.

(b) Lot size and sampling. (1) A lot shall consist of not more than 1,000 buoyant cushions. A new lot shall be started with any change or modification in materials used or manufacturing methods employed. When a lot of buoyant cushions is ready for inspection, the manufacturer shall notify the recognized laboratory so that they may, at their discretion, assign an inspector to the plant for the purpose of making any tests and inspections deemed necessary. From each lot of buoyant cushions, the manufacturer or the recognized laboratory or U.S. Coast Guard inspector, when assigned, shall select samples in accordance with Table 160.048-5(b)(1) to be tested for buoyancy in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section.

Table 160.048-5(b)(1)—Sampling for Buoyancy Tests

Lot sizeNo. of cushions in sample
200 and under1
201 to 4002
401 to 6003
601 to 1,0004

(2) For a lot next succeeding one from which any sample cushion failed the buoyancy test, the sample shall consist of not less than 10 specimen cushions to be tested for buoyancy in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section.

(c) Additional tests. Unannounced examinations, tests and inspections of samples obtained either directly from the manufacturer or through commercial channels may be made to determine the suitability of a product for listing and labeling, or to determine conformance of a labeled product to the applicable requirements. These may be conducted by the recognized laboratory or the Coast Guard.

(d) Test facilities. The laboratory inspector, or the Coast Guard inspector, or both, shall be admitted to any place in the factory where work is being done on listed and labeled products, and either or both inspectors may take samples of parts or materials entering into construction of final assemblies, for further examinations, inspections, or tests. The manufacturer shall provide a suitable place and the apparatus necessary for the performance of the tests which are done at the place of manufacture.

(e) Buoyancy—(1) Buoyancy test method. Remove the buoyant pad inserts from the cushion and cut three slits in the vinyl film, each not less than 6 inches in length on both sides of each pad. Securely attach the spring scale in a position directly over the test tank. Suspend the weighted wire basket from the scale in such a manner that the basket is weighed while it is completely under water. In order to measure the actual buoyancy provided by the pads, the underwater weight of the empty basket should exceed the buoyancy of the pads. To obtain the buoyancy of the pads, proceed as follows:

(i) Weigh the empty wire basket under water.

(ii) Place the pads inside the basket and submerge it so that the top of the basket is at least 2 inches below the surface of the water for 24 hours. The tank shall be locked or sealed during this 24-hour submergence period. It is important that after the pads have once been submerged that they shall remain submerged for the duration of the test, and at no time during the course of the test shall they be removed from the tank or otherwise exposed to air.

(iii) After the 24-hour submergence period unlock or unseal the tank and weigh the weighted wire basket with the pads inside while both are still under water.

(iv) The buoyancy is computed as (i) minus (iii).

(2) Buoyancy required. The buoyant pads from the cushion shall provide not less than 20 pounds total buoyancy.

[CGFR 65-37, 30 FR 11585, Sept. 10, 1965, as amended by CGFR 70-143, 35 FR 19963, Dec. 30, 1970; CGD 78-008, 43 FR 9772, Mar. 9, 1978; USCG-2014-0688, 79 FR 58285, Sept. 29, 2014]

§160.048-6   Marking.

(a) Each buoyant cushion must have the following information clearly marked in waterproof lettering:

(1) In letters that can be read at a distance of 2 feet:

Type IV Personal Flotation Device.

Inspected and tested in accordance with U.S. Coast Guard regulations.

Dry out thoroughly when wet.

(Kapok or Fibrous glass) buoyant material provides a minimum buoyant force of 20 lb.

Do not snag or puncture inner plastic cover.

If pads become waterlogged, replace device.

Approved for use on recreational boats only as a throwable device.

U.S. Coast Guard Approval No. 160.048/(assigned manufacturer's No.)/(Revision No.); (Model No.).

(Name and address of manufacturer or distributor.).

(Lot No.).

(Size; width, thickness, and length, including both top and bottom for trapezoidal cushions.).

(2) In letters that are distinctively set off or larger than all other marking, and are at least one-fourth of an inch in height:


(b) Waterproofness of marking. Marking for buoyant cushions shall be sufficiently waterproof so that after 72 hours submergence in water, it will withstand vigorous rubbing by hand while wet without the printed matter becoming illegible.

[CGFR 65-37, 30 FR 11585, Sept. 10, 1965, as amended by CGFR 70-143, 35 FR 19963, Dec. 30, 1970; CGD 72-163R, 38 FR 8119, Mar. 28, 1973; CGD 75-008, 43 FR 9771, Mar. 9, 1978; CGD 92-045, 58 FR 41608, Aug. 4, 1993; CGD 95-028, 62 FR 51213, Sept. 30, 1997]

§160.048-7   Procedure for approval.

(a) Group approval. A single group approval will be granted to each manufacturer to cover all buoyant cushions which have materials and construction strictly in conformance with this subpart, which are 2 inches thick, and which are filled with kapok or fibrous glass in accordance with §160.048-4(c)(1).

(b) Special approvals. Special approvals will be granted separately to each manufacturer for each kapok or fibrous glass buoyant cushion he proposes to manufacture which is not included under the group approval provided by paragraph (b) of this section, for example: A kapok or fibrous glass buoyant cushion having cover material not specifically provided for by this subpart; or any buoyant cushion more than 2 inches thick; or any buoyant cushion having a different shape.

(c) A buoyant cushion is approved when it bears the compliance label of the recognized laboratory.

[CGFR 70-143, 35 FR 19963, Dec. 30, 1970, as amended by CGD 72-163R, 38 FR 8119, Mar. 28, 1973; CGD 93-055, 61 FR 13930, Mar. 28, 1996; 61 FR 15162, Apr. 4, 1996]

§160.048-8   Recognized laboratory.

(a) A manufacturer seeking Coast Guard approval of a product under this subpart shall follow the approval procedures of subpart 159.005 of this chapter, and shall apply for approval directly to a recognized independent laboratory. The following laboratories are recognized under §159.010-7 of this part, to perform testing and approval functions under this subpart:

Underwriters Laboratories, 12 Laboratory Drive, P.O. Box 13995, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3995, (919) 549-1400.

(b) Production oversight must be performed by the same laboratory that performs the approval tests unless, as determined by the Commandant, the employees of the laboratory performed production oversight receive training and support equal to that of the laboratory that performed the approval testing.

[CGD 93-055, 61 FR 13930, Mar. 28, 1996]

Need assistance?