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ULSFO CONTRIBUTED TO FERRY GROUNDING, SAYS MAIB

Saturday, February 23, 2019  (Comments: 1)

When the 0.1% fuel sulphur limit in emission control areas (ECAs) entered force in January 2015, engine designers and oil companies warned that auxiliary systems including fuel pumps could suffer wear and damage due to the inherently lower lubricity of the mandated distillate ultra low sulphur fuel oil (ULSFO).

This seems to have been a significant contributing factor to an incident involving the P&O ro-pax ferry Pride of Kent, which struck a jetty and then grounded when departing the port of Calais in December 2017. The UK-flagged ferry was re-floated and moved to a berth to allow disembarkation, as the starboard propeller and tailshaft had suffered damage, needing repair in dry dock. Although the jetty was damaged, there were no injuries to crew or passengers and no pollution.

The report from the UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has just been published and concludes that: "control of the ferry during the turn towards the harbour entrance was lost due to the fast rate of turn, strong gale-force winds, use of full rudder and propeller pitch, and the tripping of one of the ferry’s bow thrusters."

MAIB also says that: "the occasional tripping of bow thrusters and reduced engine speed and shaft speeds were associated with fuel pump issues experienced following a change to ultra-low sulphur fuel."

Apparently fuel pump failure had been experienced several times after the changeover to ULSFO, and as repairs had always been carried out at the time the potential recurrence of the problem was not included in crew briefings. The effect of the failure was a reduction in power from the main engine associated with the faulty fuel pump, which meant that insufficient power was available to drive the thrusters. In combination with the weather conditions on this occasions, the bridge team did not have full control over the ship's manoeuvrability in harbour.

MAIB's report goes on to state: "the omission of a departure briefing to the bridge team contributed to the master not being fully supported, and the helm not being closely monitored."

MAIB concludes that in view of the actions already taken by P&O Ferries, no safety recommendations have been made.

Reader Comments (1)

This seems like a similar issue that we experienced some 30 years ago when the crafty penny conscious generator set salesmen, emergency standby operators, and fishing boat owners to mention just a few, tried using household heating oil, waxes removed and no GST, to save the 21% GST which was put on automotive diesel. Just another issue generated by the do-gooders, bring in an emission law before the market has a chance to re-engineer their products.

By Raymond Vinton on Wednesday, February 27, 2019

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