London P&I Club issues warning on manhole gasket and bilge pump shortcomings.
THE London P&I Club has reported a growing incidence of shortcomings with regard to the condition of manhole cover gaskets on board ships. In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the club says that feedback from its Ship Inspection Programme indicates that an increasing number of inspectors are reporting issues in this respect.
The club says it is standard practice for enclosed onboard spaces such as ballast tanks, cofferdams and void spaces to be inspected as part of a prescribed schedule to ensure that the structural condition of the ship in such difficult-to-reach locations remains acceptable. During such inspections, the condition of coatings, sounding pipes, striker plates and other structures within the tanks is usually documented, but the club says that P&I inspections have revealed that the condition of the gaskets at the manhole entrance to tanks is sometimes inadvertently overlooked.
Pointing out the potential adverse consequences for safety, stability and costly cargo damage claims resulting from the ingress of water into cargo holds, the club says, “Owners must ensure that gaskets and associated securing arrangements are considered part of routine tank inspections. Whenever manhole covers are removed, crew should check that they are replaced correctly with gaskets in good condition and tested for integrity where possible.”
Elsewhere in StopLoss, the club says that the ingress of water into cargo holds through bilge pumping systems continues to be a factor in a number of claims. Emphasising that claims of this nature are easily avoided if the crew follow standard practice with regard to the testing and maintenance of bilge systems, the club concludes, “It is good practice for all non-return valves within the bilge system to be overhauled regularly.”