Liquefaction: what you need to know

The shipping industry has been aware of the hazards of liquefaction for over a century. However, it still continues to be a major problem for cargo vessels despite updated procedures and amended legislation.

What is liquefaction?

The process takes place at a molecular level but it has a dramatic impact on the properties of solid cargo. Mining means that granular materials contain moisture in the form of water between particles and it’s the friction between these particles that causes problems.

How the cargo is stored and transported will have an effect on how this moisture behaves. Movement and vibration reduce the space between particles, increasing the pore water pressure and causing the dry cargo to act like a liquid. This is liquefaction.

The Dangers

Liquefied bulk can shift inside the hold and solidify again several times which causes the ship to list. Water can then enter the hull from hatch covers or, in the worst-case scenario, the ship will be unable to cover from a roll.

This is exactly what happened to the Bulk Jupiter when liquefaction caused the vessel to sink off the coast of Vietnam in 2015. The loss of 18 of its 19 crew members prompted the IMO to release a warning about liquefaction for ships carrying cargoes of bauxite.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. In the last ten years, liquefaction has resulted in the loss of another vessel carrying bauxite, 6 ships carrying nickel ore and 2 more that were carrying clay.

According to the Bulk Carrier Casualty Report from Intercargo, there was a total of 202 lives lost between 2008-2017. Liquefaction or cargo shift was responsible for 101 of them – exactly half. It was the highest single cause of seafarer deaths in the years studied.

UPDATE: All contacts lost with bulk carrier NUR ALLYA since Aug 20 2019, last known position was in Banda Arc N of Ambon, capital of Maluku province, Indonesia.

Bulk carrier with 25 crew and cargo of nickel ore was en route from Weda island, North Maluku, to Morosi, southeast Sulawesi. SAR launched on Aug 25, there was no distress signal. Most probably, it was ore liquefying, causing capsizing and sinking.

The last known location of the Nur Allya was reported to be approximately 44 nautical miles from Namlea, Indonesia, located off the north-east coast of the island of Buru.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation said the ship was underway from the Sepo Port area on the Indonesia island of Halmahera to the Port of Morose in southwest Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Nickel ore has earned the reputation of being perhaps the world’s deadliest cargo because of its liquefaction properties, especially when exposed to wet conditions. Cargo liquefaction can result in a vessel to lose stability and even capsize at a moment’s notice.

The Legislation

Due to the increasing concerns about the dangers of liquefaction, The International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code) was amended in January this year. The recent changes include:

  • A new test procedure for determining the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) of coal.
  • Specification that the ship operator is responsible for the testing and sampling of TML and moisture content.
  • Strengthening and clarifying the designation of coal as Group A and B cargo in the Individual Coal Schedule.

Hatch Covers

The dangers of liquefaction are increased even further by faulty hatch covers. If a ship is already listing, water ingress can tip the balance and result in sinking.

Unfortunately, poorly maintained or defective hatch covers are widespread in the shipping industry. Over 40% of all P&I claims are due to damaged cargo – worth an estimated $46.9m per year. The 50 million GT, A- rated North of England P&I club says that it continues to experience three to four claims each year valued between US$ 500,000 and US$ 1,000,000 for water-damaged cargoes resulting from hatch cover defects.

The responsibility for hatch covers again lies with the ship’s operator. 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.’

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.

Testing

Ultrasonic testing is the most effective way of making sure your hatches are functioning correctly. It’s much more accurate than water-hose leak detection and chalk testing as it shows when you have the required compression and provides a precise location for any leakages.

In terms of efficiency, ultrasonic testing equipment can be easily stowed and carried on a ship so that you can check your hatch covers regularly. The tests can be carried out by one person and doesn’t rely on the hold being empty so they won’t interrupt your operations.

Hatchtite is even more 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.

Contact us to find out more about liquefaction and how we can help keep your crews and vessels safe.

Carbon Monoxide and the Legislation for Enclosed Spaces

Legislation is frequently updated to reflect changes in the industry, especially when it comes to enclosed spaces and gas detection. This is one of the leading causes of death at sea yet there are still many misconceptions about operators’ legal responsibilities.

The Legislation

Regulatory bodies are constantly striving to protect seafarers by improving gas detection and measurement onboard ships. Commercial craft must follow the rules set out by SOLAS and IMO or face fines and detentions.

The latest legislation, Regulation XI-1/7, came into force in July 2016. This makes it mandatory for all applicable vessels to carry portable gas detectors onboard and test them regularly:

‘Every ship to which Chapter 1 applies shall carry an appropriate portable atmosphere testing instrument or instruments. As a minimum, these shall be capable to measuring concentrations of oxygen, flammable gases or vapours, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide.’

It’s these gases that a 4 gas detector is designed to monitor as they represent the biggest threat to crew members on vessels at sea or in port.

The Four Gases

Oxygen is essential for breathing so it always needs checking. In addition to this, it supports combustion so it can be dangerous in potentially hazardous working environments.

In gas detection, ‘Flammable gases or vapours’ is usually shortened to LEL which stands for ‘Lower Explosive Limit’ – the lowest concentration of a gas which can produce fire in the presence of an ignition source. When the LEL is 0%, the atmosphere is free of combustible gas and when it’s 100% the gas is at its lower flammable limit. These percentages will differ from gas to gas.

Exposure to Hydrogen Sulphide will result in rapid unconsciousness and death. It’s a colourless and highly flammable gas that’s produced by decaying organic matter as well as numerous industrial processes. Although it has a characteristic smell of rotten eggs, the gas affects your sense of smell so it’s difficult to detect without equipment.

The final gas of the four, Carbon Monoxide, is the one that’s most frequently overlooked. Although Regulation XI-1/7 states very clearly that it must be monitored, there’s a general misunderstanding in the industry about the legal requirements for testing. Because of this – and the properties of Carbon Monoxide – it’s the gas that leads to most deaths onboard ships.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

It’s produced whenever organic matter is burned, including carbon-based fuels. It displaces oxygen in the blood, depriving the heart, brain and other vital organs of oxygen. As little as 0.4% concentration in the air can cause victims to lose consciousness and suffocate within minutes. Even if the initial exposure is non-fatal, the delayed effects could result in memory loss, depression, psychosis, difficulties with speech and coordination, blindness and a reduced life expectancy.

Carbon Monoxide is odourless, colourless, tasteless and a non-irritant so it’s impossible to detect its presence without monitoring equipment. Although the dangers of poisoning have been known for centuries, it still causes thousands of deaths every year – in many countries, it’s the most common kind of fatal poisoning. In the US alone, it’s responsible for over 20,000 emergency department visits per year.

CO On Board Ship

Carbon Monoxide collects in poorly ventilated areas, the kinds of spaces that are often used for installing new machinery or storage. On a modern vessel with a complex matrix of pipelines running through each of its parts, there will be even more of these areas so seafarers are more exposed to the dangers of Carbon Monoxide than ever before.

The IMO defines enclosed spaces as having limited openings for entry and exit, inadequate ventilation or a design not intended for continuous worker occupancy. These areas include:

• cargo spaces
• double bottoms
• fuel tanks, ballast tanks
• cargo pump-rooms, compressor rooms
• chain lockers
• and any other area that may be oxygen deficient.

If a crew member enters to carry out repairs or cleaning without taking adequate precautions, the results are usually fatal. There have been numerous instances of Carbon Monoxide poisoning in the last few years alone.

Recent Incidents

In April, three seafarers died of asphyxiation after being overcome by exhaust fumes on a drilling rig. This prompted the US Coast Guard to issue a Marine Safety Alert to remind operators about the dangers of confined spaces.

But this was just the latest in a long line of similar incidents. Vessels in the UK, Belgium, Malaysia and The Marshall Islands have all experienced fatalities from confined space entries in recent years.

Effective gas detectors and calibration instruments are essential on all cargo vessels. This equipment should also be as versatile and easy to use as possible so that all crew members are protected.

Gas Detection

One gas detection system doesn’t necessarily suit all ships – you have to make sure that you have the correct equipment for your vessel’s particular needs. SOLAS guidance states:

‘It should be noted that, given a ship’s specific characteristics and operations, additional atmospheric hazards in enclosed spaces may be present that may not be detected by the instrument recommended to be selected by these Guidelines, and in such cases, if known, additional appropriate instruments should be carried.’

Martek Marine is a recognised specialist in marine gas detection with a team of dedicated technical experts that’s renowned within the maritime industry. The world’s major ship operators trust our products to keep their ships and crews safe while also improving their performance and running costs.

We have a range of fixed and portable gas detection equipment that’s designed to cover a variety of different requirements. Our ABC Station will also allow you to perform onboard calibration and produce a tamper-proof certificate that’s acceptable to Class, Port State Control and Oil Majors.

Make sure your crews are ALWAYS protected from the dangers of confined space entry.

Contact us to find out more about gas detection and equipment.

How the quality of your calibration gas impacts performance

Gas detection equipment needs to be operating effectively but keeping vessels fully stocked with calibration gas can be challenging, costly and time-consuming – especially if the gases you’re using are low quality…

The Problem

Calibration gases are unstable and often impure. Reactive gases are so chemically active they will even react with the containers that are used to store them.
The general quality of cylinders within the industry is relatively poor so most calibration gases have very a short shelf-life, often just 6-12 months. Expired calibration gas won’t provide accurate readings and will be potentially dangerous so it needs to be replaced, regardless of how much is left in the container.
Another typical overspend comes from free flow regulators. These use much more gas than you need for bump tests and calibrations so you end up wasting a lot of the gas that you’ve spent valuable time and money on.
All this wastage could mean that approximately 55% of your costs are being squandered. In addition to this, multiple re-stocking deliveries will need to be arranged for each ship. This will incur more freight costs, dangerous goods charges and customs’/agent’s fees.

Procurement

Organising multiple deliveries and arranging schedules also 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 a reliable supply of calibration gas can be a troublesome and time-consuming ordeal.
This is time that superintendents could be spending on higher value and more critical areas of the business.

A Higher Quality

Using products with a significantly longer shelf-life can make a great deal of difference to your performance and your costs.
FastCalGas is the first in the world to offer a 27-month manufactured shelf life on all reactive mixtures. It’s able to do this because it has the highest production standards of any calibration gas on the market. It uses advanced materials and a mass spectrometer to analyse and verify the quality of every cylinder. In over 30,000 deliveries, only two defects have ever been reported, a quality yield of over 99.993%.
It’s guaranteed to be compatible with all the leading brands of gas detectors and uses a demand flow regulator so that you’re using only a very small and precise amount of gas with each calibration. Cutting down on this wastage can save you a significant amount of money in resupplies.
You can also purchase calibration gas quickly and easily online from anywhere in the world. Our lean order processing and extensive global supply chain means that 98% of our orders are shipped within 24 hours.

A Simpler Supply Process

You can make further improvements to the performance by using a calibration gas inventory management service to take control of your ordering and supply process.
FastCalGas 1-2-1 service 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 process into one order, two years’ supply and one delivery.
We review your gas detectors’ usage to determine your requirements and run on-going checks with vessels, contacting each ship to arrange re-stocking after twenty-one months. All we need to know is what gas detectors your vessels are using, how often they bump/calibrate on average and what flow rate regulators they use. You can simply pass on your inventory or let us contact the ships directly to get the information, we take care of all the rest. There’s no contract, no long-term commitment and no hassle.

Slash your costs and improve your performance with FastCalGas 1-2-1

Contact us to find out more.

Could Your Ballast Water Treatment Be Killing You?

The dangers of chlorine in ballast water treatment

Without the right equipment, ballast water treatment can be a real headache for operators. As well as the expense, there are numerous other considerations – especially regarding the use of Chlorine, the most common method of treatment.

One of the biggest problems faced by the shipping industry is the spreading of Invasive Aquatic Species from a ship’s ballast water.

Bio-invasion has increased at an alarming rate, such as Golden Mussels, Zebra Mussels, North American Comb Jellyfish, the Cladoceran Water Flea, and the North Pacific Seastar has led to ballast water treatment becoming a hot topic in maritime discussion around the world, leading to an implementation of a ballast water management plan.

Ballast water management plans became key under the IMO’s “International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments”.

Key to stability, ballast water reduces hull stress, balances off the weight of lost fuel/water, improves maneuverability with sufficient vessel draft and improves crew welfare with reduced vibrations and uncontrolled vessel movements.

Treating Ballast Water

The main types of ballast water treatment technologies available in the market are:

  • Filtration Systems (physical)
  • Chemical Disinfection (oxidizing and non-oxidizing biocides)
  • Ultra-violet treatment
  • Deoxygenation treatment
  • Heat (thermal treatment)
  • Acoustic (cavitation treatment)
  • Electric pulse/pulse plasma systems
  • Magnetic Field Treatment

Many of these will require the fitting and storage of new equipment. This makes it prohibitively expensive as well as disruptive for ships that are already operating. For this reason, chemical treatments are far more widely used.

Biocides can be easily stored onboard ship and don’t require complicated machinery to apply them. Ozone, for example, is a very powerful oxidizing agent that dissolves in water and reacts with other chemicals that are present to kill organisms.

But chemical treatments come with their own set of problems. Although ozone has been used as a disinfectant for over a hundred years, it’s very unstable and toxic to humans, even in small quantities. In addition to this, it’s a harmful pollutant that damages the atmosphere and the environment when ballast water is pumped out into the sea.

With chlorine being widely adopted as part of a ballast water management plan, we’ll take a look at some of the considerations surrounding this popular treatment.

Chlorine

Chlorine is used extensively for disinfecting drinking water but it’s a very effective and common chemical for treating ballast water too. Like ozone, however, it comes with some significant drawbacks.

Because it combines with almost every element, it can form toxins in seawater. In its gas form, it’s so harmful to humans that it was used as a chemical weapon. A painful reminder as to the catastrophic effects of chlorine is one of the most iconic images of the first world war

Soldiers wounded in gas attacks
The use of chlorine as a weapon in WW1 was devastating

This chemical was first used by German forces with the aim to demoralize, injure, and kill entrenched defenders, against whom the indiscriminate and generally very slow-moving or static nature of gas clouds would be most effective.

Major Karl von Zingler described the use of chlorine in an attack as an effective but horrible weapon.

As little as 1000 ppm is fatal after only a few breaths and the effects will be felt in seconds. After you’ve inhaled chlorine, your eyes and skin will become irritated and you’ll find it difficult to breathe with a tightening chest, stinging throat and persistent cough.

Following chlorine exposure, the most common symptoms are:

  • Airway irritation
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Eye irritation
  • Skin irritation

Even if the initial exposure isn’t immediately fatal, chlorine causes fluid build-up in the lungs which can lead to pulmonary edema after a few hours and is a cause of cancer in the long-term.

Contact with liquid chlorine can cause frostbite – in skin and eyes – and there is no antidote.

The effect of exposure are treatable, but this treatment but be fast and effective with hospital care.

Chlorine in Ballast Tanks

Chlorination systems generally apply a dose of about 2 mg/l residual chlorine which is effective for treating ballast tanks and safe for seafarers as long as guidelines are followed correctly.

Some solutions, unfortunately, also use Sodium Hypochlorite with a concentration of up to 10 ppm, which can leave a potentially dangerous the gas residue in the tanks after the water is pumped out.

The main issues come from exactly that, the residue that’s left behind after the water has been pumped out.

Even if a ballast tank appears clear, the sediment or mud can contain dangerous levels of chlorine that’s heavier than air and can’t escape through ventilation.

A 2005 study by the US Navy showed the feasibility of gas bubble formation in sediment and mud. Even with forced ventilation, the gas may not be entirely released due to composition, sediment/mud volume, temperature or a whole range of other conditions.

Chlorine is difficult to detect by sight or smell, so it poses a significant threat to any crew member that enters.

Crews may enter a tank which they believe to be clear of gas – even when the tank has been closed for a long period of time. Changes in the atmosphere or movement can now cause the potentially lethal gas to be released.

Much like the entrenched troops of WW1, without any appropriate gas detection equipment, the fact may not be realised until it’s too late.

Gas Detection

Gas detectors are vital for ballast tanks that have been treated with chlorine and should form part of the ship’s safety management procedures for enclosed and confined spaces.

In addition to protecting your crew, failing to equip your vessel with adequate gas detection equipment carries heavy penalties – and detentions and advisories are on the increase.

The IMO clause in SOLAS REGULATION XI-1/7 states that:

‘2 It should be noted that, given a ship’s specific characteristics and operations, additional atmospheric hazards in enclosed spaces may be present that may not be detected by the instrument recommended to be selected by these Guidelines, and in such cases, if known, additional appropriate instruments should be carried.’

Simply put, if there’s a risk of gas being present, your crew need to be equipped with appropriate equipment to detect these gasses.

Marine 5

As well as testing for the standard four gases (Flammable, H2, CO, and O2), the Marine 5 dual-sensor can also monitor chlorine.

This means that there’s no need to provide individual gas detectors for different gases – the Marine 5 provides multiple gas detection in one portable device.

The range of bespoke gases you can detect with the dual sensor include:
  • Ammonia
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Chlorine
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Sulphur Dioxide
  • And more

It’s an effective and affordable solution for gas detection, improving safety and efficiency while reducing operating costs. It will also dramatically cut down on calibration gas wastage and allow you to perform on-board bump testing, saving you time and hassle.

The Marine 5 is the perfect gas detector for testing your ballast water tanks for chlorine. Discover its simplicity today and the option for cost-saving onboard calibration.

10 ways FastCalGas 121 can reduce costs and save you hours in labour intensive logistics

Calibration gases are essential for making sure gas detection equipment is performing effectively. But keeping vessels fully stocked with up-to-date calibration gases can be challenging, costly and time consuming, especially when managing multiple types of vessels, all with different gas requirements, operating around the word.

FastCalGas 121 is a fleet-wide, fully managed service that removes the logistical challenges of calibration gas management and ensures you’ll never get caught out and run the risk of having to buy expensive, low quality gas from unknown overseas suppliers at short notice. All you need to do is tell us what equipment you have on board. We’ll calculate exactly how much gas each vessel needs and send a 2-year supply directly to its next convenient port of call.

Here are ten ways FastCalGas 121 can help you streamline your calibration gas supply and administration:

  1. Never run out

When a vessel suddenly informs you that it’s run out of calibration gas, you’ll be forced to use a local supplier. This means that the gas will most likely be poor quality with a short shelf-life. In addition to this, the costs of delivery, agent, import and launch boat fees will result in you paying way over the odds-on shipping just one or two bottles.

This can all be avoided by using FastCalGas. We can calculate exactly how much gas you’ll need over the next 24 months then send it directly to the vessel. It simplifies the process into one order, two years’ supply and one delivery.

  1. Fewer administration charges

Multiple re-stocking deliveries for each ship means more freight costs, more dangerous goods charges and higher customs’/agent’s fees.

Our 1-2-1 service is designed to cut down on these charges as well as the hidden costs that come from the time spent on administration and logistics. Reducing your administration charges by up to 50%.

  1. Stress free
    Organising a reliable supply of calibration gas for a global fleet can prove troublesome and time-consuming – time that superintendents could be spending in higher value and more critical areas of the business.

Using a managed service removes all this stress from the process. We review your vessels gas detectors to determine your requirements and run on-going checks with vessels to ensure they have an adequate supply on board. In the unlikely event of your supply running low because we’ve under-calculated your usage, we’ll arrange for replacements to be sent directly to the vessel.

  1. Less wastage

Because of the instability and impurity of the gases used and the relatively poor quality of cylinders within the industry, most calibration gases have a short shelf-life of just 6-12 months. This means that gases need to be replaced more regularly – regardless of how much remains in the cylinder.

Using products of a higher quality and a significantly longer shelf-life can therefore make a great deal of difference.

  1. Longer shelf Life

FastCalGas has a 27-month manufactured shelf life on all reactive mixtures – a world first. It has the highest gas production standards of any calibration gas on the market and uses advanced materials with a mass spectrometer to analyse and verify the quality of every cylinder. In 30,000 deliveries, only two defects have ever been reported, a quality yield of over 99.993%.

  1. Shipped across the globe

Wherever in the world your vessels operate, our FastCalGas 121 team have access to a global delivery network of 8 international hubs, taking away the added pressure of finding local suppliers and managing complicated overseas logistics yourself.  Our lean order processing and extensive global supply chain means that 98% of our orders are shipped within 24 hours.

  1. Compatibility
    This can be a headache when using multiple suppliers. Quality control will also be an issue as different suppliers will all need to meet the same standards. FastCalGas is guaranteed to be compatible with all the leading brands of gas detectors and, because everything is coming from one supplier, you can be sure that the quality will always be consistent.
  2. Easy to sign up
    All we need to know is what gas detectors your vessels are using, how often they bump/calibrate on average and what flow rate regulators they use. You can simply pass on your inventory or let us contact the ships directly to get the information, we take care of all the rest. There’s no contract, no long-term commitment and no hassle.
  3. Flexibility

We don’t need to ship all your calibration gas in one delivery and one location for every vessel. We can ship a single vessel’s two-year supply to meet it at the next convenient port so the agent doesn’t have to pay high storage fees for long periods.

The cost can be spread 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. There may also be credit and invoice options available depending on your budget and your requirements – we can tailor our service to suit your needs.

  1. Superior service

Martek has over 100 years of gas detection experience and our customer service is renowned in the maritime industry. You can expect technical experts with a full set of language skills who are proficient in organising the handling of dangerous cargo.

With an industry leading product quality, worldwide distribution network, and expert team, FastCalGas 121 is your answer to pain free calibration gas supply for your entire fleet, allowing you to free up your time and concentrate on other tasks.

Contact us today to find out how FastCalGas 121 can offer you fleet-wide, risk free calibration gas supply that’s on time, every time.

The risk of Legionella at sea

Managing the water supply on ships can be troublesome. If you don’t monitor it correctly, it will have serious effects on both your crew and your operations.

Poorly maintained water can easily result in contamination from bacteria and pathogens leading to outbreaks of noroviruses, Salmonella, E-Coli and Legionnaire’s disease.

Here we look at some of the dangers of Legionella and how you can avoid them.

What is Legionella?

Legionella is a type of bacteria that can cause diseases such as Pontiac Fever, Lochgoilhead Fever and, the most serious, Legionnaire’s Disease.

The bacteria gets into your lungs when you breathe in aerosols – small droplets of water suspended in the air. If not treated with antibiotics, it begins to affect the heart, brain, and other organs. The drop in blood pressure can also lead to septic shock as well as lung and kidney failure.

Where is Legionella found?

The bacteria is common in natural water sources like rivers, lakes and reservoirs but usually in low quantities. It becomes a major problem in purpose-built water systems where conditions are right for it to thrive.

It’s pretty resilient to low temperatures but prefers a temperature between 20-50 °C. Showers, cleaning systems, hot and cold water systems, air conditioning systems and drinking water systems all provide the right environment for contamination.

If these systems are poorly maintained, the bacteria will grow and increase the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.

What is Legionnaire’s Disease?

This is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. The symptoms are similar to the flu – you’ll have a high temperature with fever and chills, muscle pain and tiredness, a cough, and probably a headache. You might also feel confused and experience vomiting or diarrhea.

Everyone is open to infection. However, the risk increases even further if you are over 45 years old, smoke or drink heavily, have an impaired immune system or a pre-existing condition like diabetes, heart disease or respiratory issues.

Given that a 2018 study found that 46% of UK officers (holding Certificates of Competency) were over the age of 45, this suggests a large number of seafarers are at increased risk.

Because of its similarity to the flu, it’s not always easy to diagnose – especially at sea where they may not be easy access to a medical professional who can conduct urine or blood tests. Access to antibiotics to treat the disease will also be much harder to find.

In the past 30 years, there have been over 200 cases of Legionnaires disease on ships and it can have a devastating effect on your crew and operations. In one incident alone, 50 seafarers were infected and one crew member died.

Legionella at sea

All man-made water systems can be a breeding ground for Legionella and the conditions onboard ship provide the perfect environment for the bacteria to thrive. You should be paying particular attention to these areas:

– Any part of your water system that has a temperature between 20–50 °C.

– Any outlet that creates and disperses water droplets. This includes showers, sink taps, air conditioning units, fire hoses, and washing equipment.

– Anywhere that water is stored or re-circulated.

– Places where there are deposits containing nutrients that allow bacteria to grow such as rust, sludge, scale, organic matter, and biofilms.

What can I do to prevent it?

There are a few simple measures that you can perform to reduce the risks from Legionella at sea.

Boiler outlets
Make sure the water is more than 60 °C.

Taps, toilets and showers
If they’re not frequently used, they need to be flushed through at least once a week.

Hot and cold water supply
The hot water supply temperature should be greater than 60 °C and the cold below 25 °C. If they aren’t, then the water needs to be tested for legionella.

Showerheads and pipework
At least every three months, dismantle, clean and soak for a few hours in a disinfectant or chlorine solution. If a shower hasn’t been turned on for 2-4 weeks, you should do this before it’s used again. You also need to find and remove any plumbing that’s become isolated from the regular flow of water or is no longer used.

Freshwater tanks
To prevent the growth of bacteria, make sure the residual disinfectant level is maintained at more than 0.2ppm free chlorine. They also need to be super chlorinated twice a year with the water flushed through outlet points.

Testing

Ship operators have a responsibility to protect their employees from legionella, as outlined in the guidance from the Health and Safety Executive.

You should conduct regular tests to check for bacteria present in the water onboard ship – both your sewage effluence and your freshwater.

Drinksafe will allow you to maintain the safety of your water source as well its distribution system. It will test for bacteria and toxins in the water that you use every day for drinking, hygiene, and food preparation. For extra peace of mind, we can also provide a special add-on that’s specifically designed to protect against the dangers of legionella.

Know the risks and always ensure that your water supply is safe.

Contact us to learn more about our onboard legionella and potable water test kits.

Personal or Portable Gas Detectors – what’s the difference?

The size, capability, and usage can vary greatly between personal gas detectors and portable gas detectors.

However, these distinctions might not always be clearly defined by suppliers which can leave you feeling confused.

Which type and model of detector you choose will depend on your own particular requirements:

  • the gas or gases you need to monitor
  • the frequency and conditions of usage
  • and the level of detail you need in your reporting.

Personal Gas Detectors

As the name suggests, personal gas detectors are small enough to be clipped to the belt or clothing of the user.

Because they’re designed to be worn, they need to be able to withstand the kinds of knocks or damage that come when they’re carried into confined spaces, so you’ll usually find that they have a high IP rating.

To keep everything compact, they’ll probably use a self-contained battery which is sealed inside the detector. When the battery reaches the end of its life, the device itself will need to be replaced.

Personal gas detectors are usually much cheaper than portable detectors but their capabilities and screen displays may be more limited and they don’t always allow for calibration or pump options.

They’re often used for detecting one particular gas – like our hydrogen sulphide and oxygen single gas detectors – but more advanced devices can detect four or even five.

Portable Gas Detectors

These larger and more complex devices can offer a more sophisticated solution both in the number of gases they’re able to trace and their data logging.

Although they’re not as durable or easy to carry as personal gas detectors, they do come equipped with a pump which enables you to test remotely.

They’re also easier to calibrate and you can re-charge or change their batteries without the need to replace the whole unit.

The greater number of sensors on a portable detector means that they can provide a wide variety of different feedback as well as storing much more information.
The software on the Marine Tankscape, for example, provides complete data logging of gas readings with tank identification and vessel location which makes detection, analysis, and action planning easy.

It also enables you to print tamper-proof calibration certificates on-board, further reducing costs and making the process far less complicated.

The best of both

The Marine 4 and Marine 5 can be classed as both personal and portable.

They have the benefits of the personal – small enough to be worn, robust enough to cope with tough conditions, simple one-button operation with audio and visual alarms – but they feature the advantages of a portable gas detector too.

The Marine 4 will detect and display up to four gases simultaneously.
These can be configured depending on your requirements and include a combination of methane, oxygen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, and other flammable gases – the Marine 5 gives you one extra should you need it.

Both are compatible with an internal sampling pump which enables you to test remotely and safeguard your crew. This provides flexibility for pre-entry into deep tanks, holds and void spaces and has a wide range of applications in a variety of different industries.

You can even bump test and ensure you’re always compliant by using the ABC Station. This provides you on board self-calibration and produces a tamper-proof calibration certificate that’s acceptable to all Class, Port State Control and Oil Majors.

Martek offers a full consulting service to create a bespoke gas detection package that’s tailor-made to your exact requirements. Get yours now.

The problems with connectivity at sea

A good internet connection is fast becoming essential in today’s shipping industry. Operators who don’t stay on top of the latest developments and take advantage of all the benefits they bring are beginning to lose out commercially to those who do.

But connectivity at sea isn’t all plain sailing. Here are some of the problems that you might face – and the solutions offered by the mini-VSAT Broadband.

It has low bandwidth

Connectivity can significantly reduce your operating costs. It enables you to improve fuel consumption, monitor performance, update real-time weather reports and fine-tune your planning. There are also numerous benefits that come from seafarers being able to use their own devices – training, leisure activities and staying in contact with friends and family, for example.

These factors are becoming a standard issue on-board and they all depend on bandwidth. The higher the bandwidth, the greater the advantage to your operations.

In the past, however, bandwidth restrictions and coverage restraints have been a major issue with connectivity at sea. Happily, this is no longer the case. Systems like the mini-VSAT Broadband are able to provide a high-speed data channel with unlimited usage that’s available in a variety of different plans. The high-speed global network delivers speeds as fast as 20/3 Mbps and is perfect for video-conferencing, streaming, entertainment content and the application of the Internet of Things (IoT) which allows the transfer of data without any human interaction whatsoever.

It’s unreliable

You might expect unstable connections, lack of coverage, lapses in service and long delays as your system tries to locate a satellite. A good internet system should take into account these factors and search for overlapping beams that take advantage of redundancy in satellite coverage.

The mini-VSAT Broadband uses the most advanced managed HTS network – the industry leading Ku-band VSAT. It has a coverage of 272 million square kilometres and the system has automatic fast switching between the network’s redundant beams which gives you seamless communications wherever you are in the world. The prioritised voice service has crystal clear call quality and supports Wi-Fi connections between compatible phones.

It also has a much greater resilience to weather and rain fade – important considerations for the extreme and changeable conditions at sea.

It’s complicated

A huge rack of equipment, lengthy installations and being locked into a restrictive long-term contract – these are all things of the past.

With the mini-VSAT Broadband, you get a straightforward one box solution that manages your whole network without lengthy ownership costs. The plan is much more flexible too, just a single monthly subscription that you can easily change or cancel with no penalties or commitment. To help with any technical issues, we offer a global support programme and a two-year parts and labour warranty that you can extend to five years.

It’s expensive

Connectivity doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Installation is free in selected international ports and your airtime options can be adapted to suit the requirements of every kind of operation.

The average person touches their smart phone 2,617 times a day so, to prevent your data usage costs spiralling, our system gives you complete visibility. You can monitor and control the amount of data your crew and equipment are using to make sure you always keep within your budget.

It’s not secure

For all the benefits of being connected at sea, there are dangers too – cyber-attacks can have a devastating effect on your operations. In 2017 the NotPetya ransomware cost Møller-Maersk an estimated £300 million and the company had to reinstall over 45,000 PCs, 4,000 servers and 2,500 applications. This wasn’t even a targeted attack.

Without adequate protection, a determined hacker could penetrate all your operational information including routes, manifests, charts, payroll and employee details. Shipping companies always need to be aware of security and take the necessary precautions.

The mini-VSAT Broadband has a six-level cybersecurity programme which includes an advanced network-level firewall – there’s also automated threat management for extra peace of mind. For breaches caused by human behaviour, it comes with the award-winning KVH Videotel ‘Cybersecurity Safety at Sea’ training programme which has proved invaluable in making sure seafarers are aware of the risks that come with on-board connectivity.

Mini-VSAT Broadband gives you fast, secure, global connectivity with no hassles or hidden costs.

Contact us to find out more.

Gas detection: the hidden costs of third-party servicing

On paper, using a third-party to service your gas detection equipment may seem like a cheap option.

However, there are several important considerations that can be easily overlooked. These factors could end-up costing you significantly more in the long-run.

Maintenance and repair

Because an intermediary won’t have in-depth, intimate knowledge of the systems they’re servicing, potential issues can easily be missed during routine maintenance.

If a problem does develop it will also be more difficult for them to diagnose it. They may have to use trial and error to find out what’s wrong, taking up valuable time and probably resulting in repeat attendances. All of this will cost you extra money that could have been saved by having the equipment serviced by the supplier.

Spares

Guesswork and misdiagnosis can lead to multiple purchases of components and spares that simply aren’t needed.

For example, it’s very common for third-party services to suggest replacing sensors or buying new pumps – both of which are expensive components. However, it’s quite likely that actually, only the consumable components inside the sensors and pumps need purchasing. This a much cheaper option and something that the supplier of the device would be aware of.

Martek assures a first-time fix for issues such as these. We come equipped to cover all eventualities and only use what is absolutely necessary in order to minimise your costs.

3rd party servicing considerations
Are you paying for the hidden cost of a 3rd party service?

Safety

Regardless of how much knowledge and experience a third-party intermediary claim to have, using them is always a risk. Gas detection devices and critical safety systems are simply too important to take chances with.

You could face detention for lack of compliance, or even put the lives of your crew in danger by using someone who hasn’t been trained by the manufacturer to service your equipment.

Training

Your costs will be reduced if your crew fully understand the systems you use. It will allow issues to be identified quicker and more easily so that they only issue RFQs for what’s really necessary.

A third-party intermediary doesn’t have the knowledge or experience to advise your crew whereas Martek offers effective training on the operation of the equipment we provide. This will ultimately help you to keep your long-term costs down.

Warranty

Most gas detection equipment has exclusive components – Martek, for example, has a unique sensor provider. When third-parties can’t source these elements, they end up replacing critical sensors with different, ‘closest fit’ alternatives. This creates a hybrid system that isn’t guaranteed to operate properly. In addition to this, it will no longer be manufacturer approved so your warranty will be voided too.

Upgrades

It’s unlikely that the gas detection equipment you’re using is brand new – it may even have been a while since you looked into the latest available developments.

There are many cost-effective upgrades that could provide numerous benefits to your system by reducing the number of consumable spares or the frequency of services required. Third-party intermediaries may not be aware of these upgrades – or even if they are, they won’t be in a position to provide them to you.

Martek is a world-leader in marine safety with years of experience in gas detection technology. We have a global supply chain to deliver goods quickly and conveniently and we’re always at the forefront of the latest innovative and cost-saving equipment.

Packages

Martek is a one-stop-shop for all your gas detection requirements so we’re in the position to put together a solution that’s designed for you. We offer various packages which include spare parts and calibration gases that will streamline your supply chain, reduce the costs of multiple orders and keep your invoices to a minimum.

The world’s major ship operators trust us to improve their performance and keep their ships and crews safe. You should too.

Contact us to find out more.

Detentions for sewage treatment on the increase

Marine pollution has always been in the spotlight but now, even more attention is being paid to the impact of sewage on the environment. Strict regulations and an increasing focus on compliance is having a big effect on shipping.

A recent bulletin issued by UK P&I Club has highlighted the issue. It reveals that detentions due to sewage are on the rise at an alarming rate.

Detentions

The bulletin concerns recent data released by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) which shows the extent of the problem. So far in 2019, the most common reason for the detention of their vessels was sewage-related.

The deficiencies – generally worded as ‘sewage treatment plant defective’ – could be down to a number of issues. These range from poor maintenance of equipment, inadequate checking of effluence or, in some cases, discharging raw sewage directly into the waters of the port.

Detentions for inadequate sewage treatment are a growing concern for ship operators. In 2018, sewage was also listed as the second most common detainable deficiency in the Tokyo MOU.

MARPOL Annex IV

The legislation that you need to comply with will depend on factors such as the vessel size and type, where it’s operating and when its sewage treatment equipment was installed.

Annex IV is a complex piece of legislation which focusses on the treatment of sewage and the discharge of sewage effluents. We’ve compiled a comprehensive free guide to help clarify all aspects of sewage effluent legislation which applies to commercial shipping vessels.

MARPOL Annex IV applies to ships on international voyages which are over 400 gross tonnage, or those that are less and certified to carry 15 passengers and crew. It contains detailed regulations about the onboard equipment needed to control sewage discharge, the reception facilities that must be provided at ports and terminals, and the requirements for survey and certification.

There are a number of guidelines within MARPOL Annex IV that are worth paying particular attention to in order to avoid detention:

Resolution MEPC.227(64)
This applies to sewage treatment plants installed after 1st January 2016 on ships that are operating outside the ‘special areas’ designated in MARPOL Annex IV (detailed in MEPC.200(62))

Resolution MEPC.159(55)
These are revised guidelines about implementing effluent standards and performance tests for sewage treatment. They apply to treatment plants installed between 1st January 2010 and 1st January 2016 on vessels that operate inside ‘special areas’.

Resolution MEPC.2(VI)
This contains recommendations for international effluent standards and provides more guidance for performance testing in sewage treatment plants. It applies to equipment installed before 1st January 2010 on ships operating in ‘special areas’.

Inspections

During an inspection, the vessel should be able to demonstrate that it meets all the operational requirements of MARPOL Annex IV when it comes to effluents and sewage treatment. The International Safety Management Code also requires crews to be familiar with sewage treatment systems and maintain up-to-date records.

If a defect is discovered, this must be reported to the appropriate authority at the earliest opportunity. Additionally, you can’t make any changes to the ship’s systems without authorisation from the Flag Administration after an inspection has been conducted.

Essentially, you need to make sure that your sewage treatment processes are always compliant or you risk detention.

A Simple Solution

The amount of legislation can be overwhelming – especially as it’s frequently updated and is likely to get even more stringent in the future. Our new Sewage Water Test Kit offers an easy way to make sure your sewage treatment processes meet the regulations.

It provides you with everything you need to carry out regular testing and doesn’t require any formal training. Everything comes in one kit and the test procedures don’t use any complicated equipment – they’re quick and easy and can be performed by anyone. Its design is based on recommendations from the Department of the Environment and the Water Research Centre so you get only the most vital components that make sure you’re compliant.

Carrying out regular tests of your vessel’s sewage will enable you to identify issues much earlier and correct them with the minimum of difficulty. This will save time and money, and increase your productivity.

Don’t risk detention. Make sure your sewage processing is compliant.

A Guaranteed Compliant Test Solution