Cargo leakage into ballast tanks – New York/New Jersey COPT Observations

In a recent meeting with Captain of the Port (COPT) Craig Bone and his staff, we received information from a Study carried out by the local COPT on structural problems on some tankers calling at NY/NJ. We are passing on this information in order to raise members’ awareness.

As background information, click here for a list of incidents. In summary, just over half of the 32 tankers were OBOs. Most (25 of the 32) were between 33,000 and 46,000 gt while the rest were smaller 15-30,000 gt units. Most were built in the first half of the 1980s, with a few in the late 1970s and late 1980s, and two in 1992 and 2002.

Click here for a presentation on the matter which clearly shows that oil spilled from tankers is very rare in NY/NJ

However, real concern is expressed with regard to safety risks on a few tankers which have experienced cargo leakage into ballast tanks. In some of these reported incidents the problem was identified by the Coast Guard but in the majority of cases it appears that the ship itself reported the incident in advance.

The COPT in NY/NJ has a procedure to address such incidents and this has been laid down in the NY Inspection Circular No. 07/00. Click here to download a copy of the circular.

When all compromised spaces have been inerted, the COPT provides a safe refuge to damaged tankers in a remote anchorage zone. The ship is given shore assistance to fix its problems and the tanker is permitted to call at berth after the cracks have been sealed and all inert cargo spaces are free of hydrocarbon gases.

The COPT strongly encourages tankers bound for NY/NJ facing similar problems to give advance notice and a straightforward report. Provided this is given, the shore will minimise the delay and provide proper assistance.

ISTEC will be invited to consider some of these aspects in more detail and coordinate with the NY/NJ COPT on improving current procedures.

Contact: Dragos Rauta