Permanent Underwater Rudder Repair in Antwerp
Tuesday, May 07, 2013

At the beginning of March, a Hydrex team of diver/technicians sailed out with one of the company’s dive support workboats to a 200-meter vehicle carrier berthed in the port of Antwerp. They performed an underwater inspection and repair of the vessel’s malfunctioning rudder.

The latest development allows Hydrex to perform permanent repairs on any type of rudder while the vessel remains at anchorage and cargo operations continue. Permanent in-water rudder repairs were hitherto not possible and ships had to drydock in cases where a major defect was found. The newly-designed method can be mobilized within hours to any port in the world. This allows Hydrex to offer the new service on a worldwide basis.

Major defects on rudders very often cause unscheduled drydocking of ships. The new technique designed by the Hydrex technical department allows engineers, welders and inspectors to perform their tasks in dry conditions with the vessel still afloat.  Class approved permanent repairs on-site are now possible while commercial operations continue. Steel repairs and replacements can be performed and pintle and bushing defects can be solved without the loss of time and money associated with drydocking.

Hydrex was contacted by the owners of the vehicle carrier because the rudder was not working properly. A diver/technician team therefore mobilized from the company’s headquarters with one of the Hydrex workboats which was loaded with all the needed equipment.

After arriving at the ship’s location in Antwerp, the team carried out a detailed underwater inspection. This revealed several irregularities on the seal assembly of the rudder.

The new method allowed the divers to perform further inspections and make a detailed assessment of the situation of the rudder in drydock-like conditions.

The rudder specialist that was present observed several reasons for the malfunctioning of the rudder. The drive band which is mounted around the seal ring was not secured, the two rings which lock the seal were too large in diameter and finally the rings were not greased.

Following the inspection by the rudder specialist, the Hydrex team carried out several repairs to remedy the rudder problems. First the existing rudder seal was tightened. Next the two wrong-sized rings were replaced with correct ones and both the upper and lower casing of the rudder seal assembly were reinstalled. Next the diver/technicians pumped grease into the rudder seal room and secured all nuts and bolts. The team could then dismantle the equipment and finalize the operations.

The vessel could continue its schedule with a fully functioning rudder. By carrying out the inspection and repair on-site and underwater, Hydrex allowed the owner to keep his ship out of drydock, saving him time and money

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