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Real-life marine risk assessment: is it trivial or vital for quality assurance?

Mon 23 Oct 2017

Real-life marine risk assessment: is it trivial or vital for quality assurance?

Over the years, technological advancements have made sailing a lot more efficient and secure, though a lot of the challenges remain the same. Meanwhile, new pitfalls could lead to unexpected operational and financial losses.

A ship is like a factory floating on the sea. Every ‘cog’ on board needs to work effectively and efficiently to guarantee a safe journey, and seamless communication is essential.

Hidden risks can jeopardise a vessel’s safety and cost in many ways. Fixing the consequences is neither quick nor cost-effective.

The need for effective and efficient evaluation of fleet management issues, including proactive measures to minimise risk, is a common topic among decision makers. It is essential to document the quality of a vessel from various perspectives, eg management, safety, overall condition, human element.

Prevention at Sea (PaSea) marine risk auditors can identify and evaluate the operational reliability and readiness of a vessel by identifying the risk factors that may contribute toward or result in a serious incident – before they escalate.

PaSea’s Marine Risk Assessment for quality assurance purposes service takes into consideration the risks and pitfalls that may be faced by mariners during each day of operation. PaSea assessments revolve around the identification of common risks and the detection of traceable deficiencies, and well-trained assessors pride themselves on being able to identify potential risks that may result in unpleasant delays, incidents or loss of hire.

PaSea achieves this by inspecting the vessel from different angles after splitting it up into zones consisting of different areas of inspection, eg safety management, navigation, structural safety, engine operations, human element, mooring and cargo operation.

A detailed inspection report – encompassing data processing, statistical analysis and suggested proactive measures – is delivered to the client. The report mirrors the ship’s risk profile by taking into consideration all the results of the assessment.

Whether you are a shipmanager, banker, insurer or charterer, PaSea offers a comprehensive solution: identification of potential risks to your shipping business and help eliminating or mitigating them. The aim of the marine risk assessment for quality assurance is not merely to point out non-conformance but rather to ensure that deficiencies are identified and resolved, safeguarding the smooth execution of the project.

During the configuration of the vessel risk profiling (VRP), all activities that could affect the vessel operator, fleet operations and performance are evaluated thoroughly. Risks are identified and risk-control options are proposed, allowing risks to be isolated, mitigated or maintained at an acceptable level. Maintaining an outstanding low risk profile helps build a good reputation, the main way to improve the earning capacity of the fleet and reduce operational costs.

The tables below are indicative of the statistical analysis that follows a general risk assessment. They do not correspond to the risk assessment that was carried out in the case study described below.

Case: Marine risk assessment on board a tanker of 115,000 DWT

The following are six examples of some of the findings of a Marine Risk Assessment for quality assurance purposes on board a 115,000 DWT tanker during its stay at the port of Rotterdam. The report was carried out by an experienced and qualified PaSea marine risk auditor. Some of the findings were of critical importance.

Finding 1 – Active fire protection Real-life marine risk assessment: is it trivial or vital for quality assurance?

The fire-protection sprinkler system installed in the bosun store was found to be supplied by seawater. The electrical motors for the hydraulic mooring system are located in the bosun store. If the sprinkler systems were to be activated, it is important to know what would be the extent of the damage as well as the consequences of using seawater with respect to the motors.

A fire-protection water sprinkler system is installed in the steering gear room. If the sprinkler system were to be activated, it could possibly result in a high risk of corrosion of the machinery as well as loss of the vessel’s steering, with unpredictable consequences.

Root cause: The vessel was built and delivered with this system installed, with no recommendation as to the type of fire-fighting system that should be installed.

PaSea proposal: PaSea drew the ship operator’s attention to this issue and suggested that alternative solutions should be investigated.

Finding 2 – Lubrication of the piping system expansion joints Real-life marine risk assessment: is it trivial or vital for quality assurance?

The expansion joints of the vessel’s piping system were lubricated with grease. Although this is a common practice, grease hardens the rubber material and the pipe will eventually lose its tightness. The positions where such expansion joints are located constitute high-risk areas. Failure of the expansion joints could have drastic consequences for the ship. Other lubricants such as Vaseline can be used instead of grease.

Root cause: Common practice is not always the best approach.

PaSea proposal: PaSea suggested that the ship change its lubrication practice and that the company prepare a campaign to change the current practice and procedures followed by the fleet for the lubrication of the piping systems’ expansion joints. PaSea suggested that the technical superintendents be trained accordingly and that they verify the implementation of the new practice on each visit to a vessel in the fleet.

Finding 3 – EEBD air quality

The quantity of oxygen in each emergency escape breathing device (EEBD) can be checked by the pressure indicator. According to manufacturers, these must be replaced every 15 years. But considering that the EEBDs remain idle for long periods, the quality of the air is not verified. It is essential to know the quality of the air prior to use in an emergency.

Root cause: Common practice.

PaSea proposal: PaSea advised contact with the makers to obtain further instructions on how to check the quality of the oxygen contained in the EEBD devices.

Relevant regulation: All ships shall carry at least two EEBDs within accommodation spaces.

Ref.: SOLAS II-2/

Ref.: SOLAS II-2/

Finding 4 – Main deck drain system

Real-life marine risk assessment: is it trivial or vital for quality assurance?The drain system on the main deck, located under the save-all of the lubricant oil supply connection, was found to be inoperable. This area is prone to pollution incidents, so the drain system’s smooth and undistracted operation is crucial in such cases.

PaSea Proposal: The drain system should be maintained as necessary to ensure its readiness for use at all times. PaSea suggested the initiation of a campaign dedicated to and revolving around the maintenance and assurance that the drain system is operable.

Finding 5 – OWS piping system

Real-life marine risk assessment: is it trivial or vital for quality assurance?The OWS piping system was not tamper-proof in accordance with Marpol regulations and the approved system drawings.

PaSea proposal: The use of tags and seals, and brightly colored marker paint, can deter unauthorised bypassing and other illegal practices. In addition, PaSea suggested the fleet-wide enforcement of a sealing system (i.e. all pipe lines and flanges of the OWS system should be sealed) and the entry of a seal number in the seal record. This is an efficient and cost-free measure.

Relevant reference: EXXON Requirement F17.

Ref.: VIQ 6.31

Finding 6 – ETA chain

Real-life marine risk assessment: is it trivial or vital for quality assurance?The chain used for the emergency towing arrangement (ETA) was stored in the forecastle space, so it is highly unlikely that the chain could be retrieved within the required time limit (not more than an hour) in case of an emergency.

PaSea proposal: The chafing chain should be stowed in a place where it can be easily connected to the strongpoint. PaSea suggested a campaign dedicated to the proper storage of the ETA chain and its use in case of an emergency, to verify current status and assure awareness of best practice.

Relevant Ref.: Resolution MSC.35(63).

Ref.: VIQ 9.25

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