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Published on 01/02/2017

Why Calibration/SPAN Gases are Important for Ship Safety

Is your vessel compliant with emissions limits? Regulations set forth by governments, international bodies, and regulatory acts require personal and commercial vessels to meet certain standards that protect you, your cargo, and your vehicle from hazardous gases. These requirements necessitate the use of gas detecting instruments. The best way to ensure that your gas detection equipment is functioning correctly is regular, accurate calibration using high-quality span gases.


Depending on where you are, your vessel will fall into different categories. Check your country’s laws to find out which category your propulsion device falls into, and which regulations apply to your specific engine type.

United Kingdom: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCS) is responsible for describing the obligations and safety requirements governing propulsion systems that move and control vehicles. You can learn more about these safety requirements from https://www.gov.uk/

United States: In the US, the major regulatory acts signed by the EPA include the 1999 Marine Engine Rule, 2002 Recreational Engine Rule, 2003 Category 3 Engine Rule, the 2008 Category ½ Engine Rule, and the 2009 Category 3 Engine Rule. Find out which laws apply you at www.epa.gov.

If you are shipping goods across international waters, the Technical Code on Control Emission of Nitrogen Oxides from Marine Diesel Engines describes engine testing and verification procedures necessary to meet the current standards required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). You can use any certified gas so long as it meets the specification of the EMS manufacturer and the accuracy defined in the NOX technical code.

Ensuring compliance with safety and environmental regulations means you’ll be doing a lot of mandatory testing, and using a lot of calibration gas!


Ship owners, operators, and workers cannot rely on human senses to detect the presence of toxic or combustible gases. Many of these hazardous substances are odourless, and you won’t know there’s a problem until it’s too late! As such, we need gas detectors to sense potential dangers for us. For the detectors to work as intended, however, they must be correctly calibrated.

Calibration tests (such as bump checks before each use, field verification, full checks, and factory checks) allow you to verify the accuracy of your detection device. This process involves comparing gases with known concentrations, known as “span gases” or “calibration gases,” with the results provided by your gas-detecting instrument. Span gases are reference gases, or gas mixtures, that are of a precisely-defined nature or composition. Span gases must also be traceable to national or international standards.

Martek Marine has the FIRST and ONLY E-Commerce website where you can purchase these types of gases online. Designed to make the purchase of gas as quick and easy as possible, you can now buy gas online and save over 50% in administration costs. You can find butane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, chlorine, oxygen, nitrogen, and more! If you can’t find the exact combination you’re looking for you can contact the FastCalGas team at Martek Marine and they will put together a bespoke mixture for you.


Martek Marine offer span gases that meet the highest standards of quality. FastCalGas, your one-stop-shop for all of your span gas needs, offer reactive mixtures with a unique, market-leading 27-month shelf life. Even better, the cylinders are recyclable, and Martek even offer a specialised recycling tool to render the used cylinders ready for processing. Additionally, Martek stocks two global standard regulators, the CGA600 Valve (71 series) and C-10 Valve (70 series) which come FREE as standard for new customers.

Why not TRY FASTCALGAS FOR FREE? Martek Marine offer new customers the opportunity to place their first order for FREE to find out how easy it is to buy gas. Email [email protected] for more details OR give us a call on one of the numbers below.