EMSA Panel on Double Hull Tankers focuses on corrosion, maintenance and repairs

More emphasis was placed on matters related to double-hull tankers in service that on newbuildings when the EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency) Panel on Double Hull Tankers held its 3rd meeting on 1 October 2004 in Brussels under the chairmanship of Ib Matthiesen, Head of the EMSA Unit of Safety, Inspections and Implementation. The Panel addressed a number of issues relevant to double hull tankers, which had been put up by OCIMF (Oil Companies International Marine Forum) and INTERTANKO. The issues discussed and the follow-up actions agreed on were as follows:

Maintenance – Although it was recognised that many tanker operators have good programmes, it was stressed that there is not one single model for a sound maintenance programme for double-hull tankers. The Panel was concerned with two aspects:

(a) how to identify the existing minority of tanker operators that do not have a good maintenance programme;

(b) how to ensure that tanker operators report their internal inspections to Classification Societies as part of the pre-planning of the Class Survey.

The following actions were agreed upon:

(a) consider amending IMO Resolution A.744(18) to ensure that owners’ inspection reports are provided to Class in due time;

(b) consider developing industry reference guidelines for a proper maintenance programme (non-prescriptive);

(c) find a mechanism by which major industry players could endorse such guidelines (e.g. class notation);

(d) further consider whether such guidelines, or elements of them, could be made mandatory (e.g. areas to be inspected by the crew and frequency of such inspections).

It was mentioned that the Tanker Structure Cooperative Forum (TSCF) is developing maintenance guidelines and a first draft will be presented at its next meeting on 14 October 2004. The ISTEC Chairman, Dean Tseretopoluos, who is also a member of the TSCF, will provide information on these developments.

Steel Repair Standards - There were two items of concern under discussion:

(a) the extent of the repairs of fatigue cracks and

(b) the quality of the repairs at repair yards.

The conclusions were:

(a) take the initiative to require a proactive attitude to repair the structure and to prevent further cracking by using structural fatigue design assessment;

(b) consider making the IACS Quality Repair Standards the norm to be used by all repair yards.

It was recognised that the IACS Guidelines need further improvements before being adopted as the norm and are being updated at the moment.

Corrosion in ballast tanks - Concern was expressed with regard to the lack of mandatory performance standards for coatings. This issue is being dealt with by the IACS Joint Working Group on Corrosion (JWG/CORR).

Corrosion in cargo tanks – There were lengthy discussions on the pros and cons of coating cargo tanks and whether this is justified or not. In conclusion it was recommended that the top and bottom structure of cargo tanks on new buildings should be coated. It was suggested that the European Union (EU) could fund a research study to further understand:

(a) actual corrosion rates in double hull tankers,

(b) the corrosive properties of various cargoes carried onboard tankers,

(c ) the quality of current coatings to sustain low pH environments - their permeability, their elasticity, etc.

The members of the Panel were requested to forward suggestions for the scope of such a study.

INTERTANKO was represented at this meeting by: Dean Tseretopoulos, ISTEC Chairman; Stefan Nystrom, ISTEC Deputy Chairman; Peter Swift and Dragos Rauta from the Secretariat.

The next meeting of the Panel will be held at the EMSA building on 30 November 2004.

Contact: Dragos Rauta