In a recent study the Swedish Club has warned that vessels propelled by medium or high speed diesel engines have a claims frequency two and a half times higher than slow speed engines with an average claims cost of about $650,000.
Statistically, a vessel will suffer between one and two incidences of main engine damage during its life time, according to the club. However, the incidence rate varies by vessel class (and engine type).
“Our research shows that bulkers and tankers are the best performers for claims cost,” said senior technical advisor Peter Stalberg. “Most of these vessels have slow speed engines. Conversely passenger vessels/ferries have the highest frequency of main engine claims – 0.066 claims per vessel and year. Often these vessels have multiple medium speed engine installations.”
Stalberg advises that when shipowners have an option to choose, slow speed engines are the more economical choice over the ship’s full lifespan, even when factoring in the space-saving advantages of medium and high-speed diesels.
In addition, the Swedish Club offered a list of best practices for all vessels and engine types for avoiding main engine damage:
– Implement robust onboard fuel and lubrication oil management systems.
– Carry out drip sampling when bunkering. Avoid consuming the fuel until analysis results are available.
– In addition to onboard testing of lubrication oil, submit samples for laboratory analysis at regular intervals, at least every third month.
– At regular intervals, carry out system checks of purifiers and filters for both fuel and lubrication oil systems.
– Ensure that maintenance manuals are at hand and that proper tools are available and calibrated. Crew members must have the necessary training and experience to carry out maintenance.
– It is highly recommended that engine maintenance is carried out as part of a computer based PMS (Planned Maintenance System), linked with the onshore organisation.
– During major overhauls it is recommended that an expert from the manufacturer is in attendance.
– Always take engine alarms seriously, for example oil mist detection, and investigate thoroughly. A fully functional alarm system is essential for the safe operation of the main engine.