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Friday, August 9, 2019 

Norwegian insurer Gard has advised its members to regularly check batteries in bilge alarm and monitoring systems following a number of ship inspections where data entered into ships’ oil record books did not correlate with that recorded by the oily water monitor.

Gard warns that flat batteries could be erasing data, resulting in port state inspectors finding vessel deficient. For a vessel to be compliant with the IMO guidelines, the 15ppm Bilge Alarm should record date, time and alarm status, and operating status of the oily water separator, storing data for at least eighteen months.

However, in its most recent update, Gard says that during recent Port State inspections, US Coast Guard inspectors found MARPOL deficiencies related to the 15-ppm bilge alarm system of four ships. They discovered that the entries in the vessels’ Oil Record Books did not correspond to the data being displayed by the 15-ppm bilge alarm/oil content meter.

Further investigation found that the specific bilge alarm monitors in these cases were of an older type. The battery was designed to last the lifetime of the device and was located inside and behind the circuit board of the 15-ppm bilge alarm system. The manufacturer’s manual indicated that during a main power supply failure combined with a low back-up battery voltage, the unit would lock down and display an error message.

In all four cases, the battery voltage was extremely low and failed to provide the required 2.5 volts necessary to maintain the stored data without error. As a result, when the data was viewed on the LCD screen it was scrambled and inaccurate.

Newer models are equipped with the possibility to replace the back-up battery because they use a capacitor that ensures enough energy to maintain the stored data for several hours.


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