Oceangoing Cargo Ships Safety & Operational Matters
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Cargo ships engine breakdown in a seaway -How to deal with engine trouble

To achieve the economy of scale shipping industry saw some dramatic increase in ship size and capacity over the years as vessels are getting bigger, so do their engine. However, any major breakdown of such gigantic engines got consequences. Machinery trouble at sea now a growing concern for ship operators. If a ship failed to maintain her itinerary due to unexpected engine failure, it incurs substantial financial losses to ship operators. Surging repair cost and additional time needed to complete an unscheduled repair giving rise to insurance claims. The ultimate result is a negative impact on the shipowners' business reputation. To minimize losses to all concerned a prudent shipmaster, therefore, need to apply his best judgment while adopting emergency measures . We have summarized below some key points that might be useful.

containerships operational matters
Oil Tanker Safety Guide
Engine trouble at sea- What can be done immediately?

Alert other nearby vessels using the whistle, VHF, Lights, or Shaped objects for Not Under Command. When the vessel is still capable of sailing ( or has steerage), move to a safe place first. Use the rudder and bow thruster to best navigational advantage. Then, anchor or drift around for repairs. When drifting, select a place away from the shore or a sea route, taking into consideration the effects of ocean and tidal currents, wind, and waves. When anchoring in deep waters, take the winding ability of the windlass into consideration.

Cargo ships main engine

Towing or assistance of tug

A salvage contract should be concluded based on instructions form the Company, except when danger such as stranding is impending. When there is no time to wait for the owner's decision, but a tug boat is ready to render assistance, as far as possible, it should be done on a salvage contract in compliance with Lloyds Open Form (LOF) . A mere towage contract with the Tug company should be avoided. There was a case reported when the vessel had become unable to operate immediately after leaving the port and had the assistance of a tug boat for leaving the quay. Later on, the tug company charged some extraordinary rescue expenses to the shipowner. To avoid such trouble, specify that it is important to confirm the contents of the contract before starting work.

Damage report

A damage report should be submitted as soon as possible to the management office. Sketches should be used wherever useful and possible. Damage report should include details of incidence and if any shore assistance required. Give early notice if any critical spare/ stores necessary to complete the repair job. When it is determined that it is impossible to repair the damage at sea, the management company should be contacted immediately for the necessary arrangements for shore assistance. When under a time charter contract, engine trouble immediately places the vessel on off-hire. All communication with the Charterers should be carried out via the management company.

Deviation for repair

When temporary calling to a port other than a destination port for repair or moving to a safe place for repair at sea, record carefully the exact deviation Start and Completion Times, and the ROB of Fuel oil (FO / DO), etc. The deviation report shall be completed in consultation with the management office.

Use of anchors

In water too deep for an anchor to reach the bottom, lowering the anchor or anchors to about 60 fathoms will reduce downwind progress. The anchor and cable may have the effect of a drogue or sea anchor and should help to keep the ship"s head into the weather. It should be noted that recovering 60 fathoms of cable and anchor should be possible, as this amount is generally within most windlasses' design capabilities. Once the ship is in a water depth where the anchor can find the bottom, the use of anchors to arrest the ship"s movement should be attempted. If the bottom is sand or mud, it may be possible for the ship"s movement to be slowed or even stopped completely by slowly lowering the anchor until it begins dragging along the bottom.

For larger ships, the scope of the chain should be short at first and later it should be gradually increased as the ship"s speed decreases. This action should bring the ship"s head into the weather and slow her speed over the ground. The chance of successfully using anchors on a rocky bottom is much lower but should be attempted if this is the only alternative. If disablement is limited to loss of steering, careful use of the engines may enable the ship to carry out his operation with a much better chance of success. Also, use of the engines can enable the ship to maintain a safe position if the weather causes the anchor(s) to drag.

For a large tanker of more than 150,000 tonnes dwt, the anchoring system normally can stop a ship with a maximum speed over the ground of about 0.5 knots and a length of cable between 6 to 10 times the water depth, in good holding grounds. These anchor systems can normally withstand a 60-knot wind without current or waves if an ordinary stockless anchor is used, or a 60-knot wind with a 2 to 3 knot current and waves of up to 6 meters if a high holding power anchor is used.

Anchors should be made ready for use at the earliest opportunity. Deteriorating conditions may prevent or delay this action from being taken at a later time. The fear should not cloud any decision to lower anchors that they may be lost if they cannot be raised later.

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