Loss of Power and Loss of Steering or Maneuverability are the major reasons for Merchant vessels getting into trouble. How can we minimize the chances of running into these kinds of problems?
By ensuring that the major mechanical components providing power and maneuverability are always in good operating condition.
What are these major mechanical components, or as we call them Critical Equipment on a Merchant Vessel?
Most of the Critical equipment is found in the Engine Room. These include the Main and Auxiliary Engine Turbochargers and the Main Engine Lubrication Oil Pumps. Without Turbochargers the performance of the engines is severely impacted.
Linked to that is the Engine Oil. This is the life blood of the engine. If the oil is in bad condition it directly affects the engine and its ability to perform 100%. Also, the condition or quality of the oil is a very good indicator of developing internal and external engine problems. Things like oil cooler water leaks, excessive wear, oil dilution, are just a few examples. All of these are easily detected in the oil.
To see a Case Study on a Sleeve/Journal bearing Turbocharger failure, please click on this link
Without steering, a vessel is unable to stay its course and stay out of trouble. Steering gear all have an emergency steering mechanism in case of failure due to its criticality in keeping a vessel out of trouble. The Steering Gear is therefore also viewed as critical equipment.
Aiding with maneuverability is the Bow Thruster. These consists of gears, bearings and hydraulic system in case of variable pitch propellor with lubrication/hydraulic oil. Loss of a bow thruster at a critical stage in maneuvering while berthing can cause major problems. Due to its location on the vessel and the long stationary periods, these units are prone to developing undetected problems. They are therefore also included in the list of critical equipment. Oil leaks also pose not only a lubrication or hydraulic problem but also an ecological threat, thus an oil quality sensor is recommended for this application as well.
To see an example of an Oil Quality Sensor detecting a seal failure on an Offshore Vessel Thruster click on this link.
To view the Mission Assurance overview please click here
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