How to simplify your supply of calibration gases

Calibration gases (also known as span gases) are essential to the maintenance and performance of gas detection equipment on board ship. They’re used as a referencing tool and act as a comparative standard for calibrating analytical instruments.

Exposing a detector or analyser to a verified concentration of a test substance will gauge whether the sensors are responding accurately so it’s vital that calibration gases are exact and traceable to a national or international standard. However, because of the instability and impurity of the gases used and the relatively poor quality of cylinders within the industry, making sure vessels are fully stocked can be challenging.

Most calibration gases have a short shelf-life of just 6-12 months which means that they need to be replaced regularly – regardless of how much remains in the cylinder. In addition to the wastage of gas that’s gone out of date, multiple re-stocking deliveries will need to be arranged for each ship incurring freight costs, dangerous goods charges and customs’/agent’s fees.

Organising these multiple deliveries and arranging schedules takes up valuable time. The typical procurement process from enquiry to delivery has twelve steps:

  1. Ship requisition
  2. Buyer interprets information
  3. Identification of potential suppliers
  4. Raise and send RFQ
  5. Suppliers seek clarification on RFQ
  6. Buyer seeks clarification from the vessel
  7. Ship sends clarification
  8. Buyer chases suppliers
  9. Review proposals and raise PO
  10. Specification of destination port
  11. Agree delivery charges
  12. Dispatch goods

This is further complicated when using several suppliers as quality control can be an issue – different providers all need to meet the same standards. For a global fleet, arranging for a reliable supply of calibration gas can be a troublesome and time-consuming ordeal.

Martek are constantly developing innovations for the shipping industry so we’ve looked at these common problems and examined the whole process to come up with an easier and more cost-effective way of supplying calibration gas: the 1-2-1 solution.

It uses FastCalGas which has the highest production standards of any calibration gas on the market and is guaranteed to be compatible with all the leading brands of gas detectors. By using advanced materials and a mass spectrometer to analyse and verify the quality of every cylinder, only two defects have ever been reported in 30,000 deliveries, a quality yield of over 99.993%. This means that the shelf-life of FastCalGas is 27 months – a world first.

This quality and reliability is a key factor in the 1-2-1 solution which is designed to cut down on carriage and agents’ charges as well as the hidden costs that come from the time spent on administration. It simplifies the whole procurement process into one order, two years’ supply and one delivery.

1-2-1 manages the inventory of calibration gas to your vessels. To switch suppliers, you only need to pass on the inventory of gas detectors on board your fleet – or let us contact the ships directly to get the information – and we can take care of the rest. We review your gas detectors’ usage to determine your requirements and run on-going checks with vessels to arrange re-stocking after twenty-one months. In the unlikely event of your supply running low because we’ve under-calculated your usage, we’ll re-stock for free.

The cost can be spread evenly in eight instalments over twenty-four months or you can make savings with a discounted price that’s paid with the initial delivery of gas to each ship.

1-2-1 guarantees quality and saves costs. Just as importantly, it cuts down on the amount of administration and scheduling which leaves your superintendents with more time to concentrate on higher value areas of your business.

Class Guidelines: Are your hatch covers covered?

The ‘Standards for Owners’ Inspections and Maintenance of Bulk Carrier Hatch Covers’ states that: ‘more attention should be paid to hatch cover securing mechanisms and the issue of horizontal loads, especially with regard to maintenance and frequency of inspection.’

Hatch covers on bulk carriers are subject to annual inspection by Classification Societies’ surveyors. The ‘Guidelines on the Enhanced Programme of Inspection during Surveys’ (ref. IMO Res. A744(18)) notes that hatch covers sets should be surveyed open, closed, and in operation at each survey, including:

  • Stowage and securing in open position
  •  Proper fit and efficiency of sealing in closed condition
  • Operational testing of hydraulic and power components, wires, chains and link drives.

In addition to surveys performed by the Classification Societies’ surveyors, SOLAS Ch. XII states that all bulk carriers must comply with the maintenance requirements provided in the ‘Standards for Owners’ Inspections and Maintenance of Bulk Carrier Hatch Covers’ (ref SOLAS XII, Regulation 7 amended by MSC Res. 170(79)). The hatch cover maintenance plan must also form a part of the ship’s safety management system as referred to in the ISM Code.

The responsibility for hatch covers lies with the ship’s operator. Gaskets, seals, retaining channels and resting pads are all subject to wear and tear so monitoring is essential to make sure they’re kept weather tight. Regular checking and maintenance is much cheaper and more effective than major repairs or incidents caused by neglect.

The 50 million GT, A- rated North of England P&I club continues to experience three to four claims each year valued between US$ 500,000 and US$ 1,000,000 for water-damaged cargoes resulting from hatch cover defects. Tony Baker, head of the club’s risk management department said:  ‘The cost of preventing these losses can usually be measured in a few thousand dollars or less. Often all that is necessary is the replacement of some defective rubber seals, some minor repairs to steelwork or sometimes just cleaning down a coaming.’

The best way to ensure your hatches are functioning correctly is by ultrasonic testing. This is much more accurate than both water-hose leak detection and chalk testing as it shows when you have the required compression and provides a precise location for any leakages. It’s more convenient too as you don’t need to interrupt your operations – the test can be carried out by one person and doesn’t rely on the hold being empty.

Ultrasonic testing equipment can be easily stowed and carried on ship so that you can check your hatch covers regularly. Hatchtite – our ultrasonic testing device – is particularly low-maintenance as it has a runtime of 40 hours and only needs calibrating after five years instead of the usual one. It’s also Type Approved by ABS, fully compliant with IACS Unified Requirement U.R.Z17 and approved by insurers and P&I clubs.

To find out more please email us

Are your hatch covers costing you a fortune?

Over 40% of all P&I claims are due to damaged cargo caused by water ingress from hatch covers – even the smallest leak can do extensive damage to cargos like steel and paper that are sensitive to seawater. It costs the industry $46.9m per year and reports of leaking hatch covers are the most frequent cause for selecting a vessel for an unscheduled condition survey.

Hatch covers and locking devices are the responsibility of the ship’s owners and operators so close attention to maintenance is vital in making sure vessels are cost-effective. Regular and efficient testing can save companies millions in claims for damaged cargo.

Ultrasonic testing is the most accurate way to ensure your hatches functioning correctly. This uses a transmitter in the cargo hold to emit ultrasound waves which can then be picked up by a receiver outside the closed hatch to determine whether there are any leaks. Unlike hose and chalk tests which only show if there is contact between the rubber packing and compression bar, ultrasonic testing indicates when you actually have the required compression.

Some hatch cover testing systems, like our Hatchtite device, go even further.

The effectiveness of an ultrasonic tester is determined by the amount of sound energy reaching the hatch cover and most transmitters emit in an upward direction. However, because of its unique dome configuration, Hatchtite is able to give complete cover in even the largest of holds by using 13 transmitters. This makes it 1,000 times more powerful than any other device on the market. Rated as IP66 and measuring in dBs to meet P&I clubs and DNV regulations, it’s also designed to be cheap to maintain and operate so its run time is 40 hours instead of the usual 10. It only needs calibrating after 5 years and can even be lowered down into the hold regardless of whether the ship is empty or loaded so there’s no need to disrupt operations.

We’re confident that using Hatchtite is the most comprehensive and cost-effective way to help you keep your cargo free from water damage. Contact us today for more information.

ISPS Code Fails to Contemplate Aerial Threats From Drones

Commercial shipping is waking up to the growing threat that drones pose to the safety & security of vessels. Recent years have seen a massive advance in drone endurance, range and payload capacity whilst the price has also plummeted, leading to a proliferation of drones expected to reach 12million by 2020.

Continue reading “ISPS Code Fails to Contemplate Aerial Threats From Drones”

Superyachts: Lifeboat – check, Lifejackets – check, Defibrillator – ??

Superyachts do almost everything to ensure the vessel and those on-board are prepared to react in an emergency, they provide extensive safety training and stock state of the art electronics, lifejackets, lifeboats, and much, much more! It seems like superyachts are prepared for anything but there is one piece of safety equipment which is overlooked by the majority of superyacht managers. The Defibrillator.











When you look at this daunting fact in detail you start to question why. Considering Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the world’s biggest killer and can occur at a moment’s notice affecting anybody of any fitness level and age, you would assume the only known treatment method would be on all vessels. Especially when you are so far from medical help.

Time is of the Essence –  and you NEED a defibrillator

It is common sense that the further out to sea you go, the greater the risk should you encounter some form of emergency. If this emergency is somebody suffering from an SCA, time is of the essence and you need to be able to react immediately by starting the chain of survival. Defibrillation is the only way to cure SCA and if defibrillation doesn’t occur within the first 3-5 minutes you can be looking at permanent brain damage. For every minute that goes by, the victim’s chances of survival drop by 10%.


The Chain of Survival for Sudden Cardiac Arrest Victims. 1. Early Call to Emergency Services, 2. Early CPR, 3. Early Defibrillator, 4. Early Advanced Care


So when SCA strikes on your yacht and you do not have a defibrillator what will you do? Will you call for a medevac? Emergency services will do their best but the chance of them reaching you within 10 minutes, even if you are docked, is highly unlikely. This puts your survival rates at almost 0%.

If there is a fatality due to SCA, what words could you possibly find to console the victim’s family, fellow crew members and friends, when you had no equipment to help – because you didn’t have the time, the budget or the knowledge?


Here are some of the misconceptions which we regularly hear about why people choose not to stock AED’s onboard superyachts.

  1. AEDs won’t work onboard vessels due to the motion – This is not true with the Lifeforce AED as our AED is military tested for the marine environment.
  2. AED’s are too expensive – They’re relatively affordable compared to the other costs associated with running a boat, plus it takes the worry out of the health and safety procedures you have.
  3. You need training to use an AED – Training is recommended so people feel comfortable with the device but it isn’t essential. Our Lifeforce AED is the simplest on the market and provides verbal instruction for how to use so even somebody without training could use it.
  4. When should you use an AED and what if it’s used when it shouldn’t be? – In the case of somebody collapsing and you cannot find a pulse you should immediately initiate defibrillation, for added peace of mind the AED will automatically analyse the patient’s vital signs and it will ONLY deliver a shock if required.

With over 17.3 million deaths per year, SCA is the world’s biggest killer and this needs to change. The way we can prevent this amount of deaths is by ensuring that all of the places where we spend our time are all protected with the correct equipment to help victims survive.

If you are interested in finding out more about our GL Type Approved Marine Lifeforce AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) contact one of our knowledgeable staff who can help you find the best AED package for your yacht and answer any questions you may have.


Drinksafe – Frequently Asked Questions

How do you currently test your water supply for Legionella? Or Echerichia Coli? Do your procedures comply with MLC 2006? Do they meet Flag state requirements and WHO guidelines for operational and source water testing?

We used feedback from 8,000 marine decision makers to make sure that Drinksafe is designed to meet the needs of the industry.

Continue reading “Drinksafe – Frequently Asked Questions”

How drone technology is improving safety in the maritime industry


UAS advancements are increasingly impacting our everyday lives, from agriculture & filmmaking to security and communications down to the products we have delivered. Its advances present major changes for the future of the maritime industry. As disruptive as the smartphone has been to the world, the use of drones will revolutionise the landscape of ship operations for years to come.

Continue reading “How drone technology is improving safety in the maritime industry”

Sudden Cardiac Arrest at Sea

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can affect anybody of any fitness level and age, anywhere, at any time. It’s the world’s biggest killer, with over 17.3 million deaths per year worldwide due to heart complications, and with it expected to rise to as much as 23.6 million by 2030, being protected and having the correct equipment is key to helping victims survive. Not only does it help improve the safety and welfare of your crew, it can save thousands of dollars in medical expenses. 1 in 5 ship excursions are forced to divert due to medical reasons. The potential cost saving to the maritime industry is in excess of $168 million per year.

Continue reading “Sudden Cardiac Arrest at Sea”

Ensuring compliance with potable water testing regulations on ships: a complete guide

Regulations surrounding potable water on ships

In August 2013, the Maritime Labour Convention’s (MLC) started to enforce their regulations (MLC 2006), aimed at maintaining high-quality drinking water onboard ships, to protect crew from waterborne health risks.

Continue reading “Ensuring compliance with potable water testing regulations on ships: a complete guide”