Alarm at the sudden loss of power
The problem of a sudden loss of power due to using lower sulphur fuels is highlighted in its latest Risk Focus bulletin by the UK P&I Club, managed by Thomas Miller, of London.The use of lower sulphur fuels is now mandated in certain coastal regions. In the bulletin Risk Focus: Loss of Power (link to PDF here), the UK P&I Club highlights causes of sudden loss of power and proposes mitigating procedures that ships’ crew should adopt.
The Club revealed that main engine failures or electrical blackouts now amount to 7 per cent of its third party claims property damage.
“Many were enormously expensive and in some cases amounted to millions of dollars. Ships effectively out of control as a result of these problems have caused extensive damage to berths, locks, bridges, navigational marks, loading arms, cranes and gantries as well as moored ships,” the Club pointed out.
Concern about these rising claims prompted the Club to initiate a data collection exercise by the UK Club’s risk assessors and a detailed analysis of more than 700 claims. The Club stated: “It is no exaggeration to suggest that main engine failures and blackouts tend to occur most regularly at the point in a voyage where the ship is at her most vulnerable. In confined waters or entering and leaving port, the stable loads, which will generally prevail with the ship on passage, are disturbed.
“There is some evidence that compliance with the low sulphur fuel regulations and changing from one grade of fuel to another may have exacerbated these problems. “Reports from pilots, operating in emission control areas where fuel grade changes have been implemented, indicate that these problems have become quite widespread.”
Concern over the lack of an available supply
The International Chamber Of Shipping (ICS) was disappointed and concerned at a decision by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to reject its call to accelerate a critical study into the global availability of low sulphur fuel for ships.
A small majority of IMO member states, led by the United States, rejected an ICS submission to the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee, which was debated at a London meeting in October. The ICS members represent more than 80 per cent of the world merchant fleet.
The ICS wants the IMO to start work without further delay on a comprehensive fuel availability study that could consider the impact of all the changes required by the new MARPOL Annex VI regime before it is too late for the oil refining industry to respond and invest. The ICS said: “Shipowners are worried about whether sufficient fuel will be available to allow ships to comply with the IMO regulations on sulphur emissions and whether, as a result of insufficient supply, the costs for those ships that are able to obtain the required fuels might be prohibitively expensive.”
Speaking after the vote, the ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe said: “Some governments still appear to have their heads in the sand with respect to fuel availability. “It’s essential that a global fuel study is carried out sufficiently in advance of 2020 to give the refiners adequate time to invest and react. The major refinery upgrading required could take a minimum of four or five year and we believe that completing the study in 2018 would simply be too late.”