Engine lubrication failures soar, study finds

WIth an average claim of US$763,320, getting engine lubrication wrong can be a costly business. Credit: The Swedish Club WIth an average claim of US$763,320, getting engine lubrication wrong can be a costly business. Credit: The Swedish Club

Incorrect lubrication is the most frequent and most expensive cause of main engine damage according to a new report from The Swedish Club.

The insurance company reviewed 202 main engine claims across 8,759 insured vessels in 2015-2017. It found a total of 40 lubrication failures with an average cost of US$763,320. This marks a dramatic rise in both the frequency and cost of lubrication failure compared to the previous review, for the years 2010-2014, which counted just 23 incidents with claims averaging US$663,351.

Incorrect maintenance or repair remains the second most common cause of main engine failure, with a drop in average cost. But while the previous report had engine fatigue and cracking as the third biggest cause, in the current study this is replaced by ‘fuel management issues’, with 11 reported incidences costing an average of US$344,069 each.

The Swedish Club experienced 734 machinery claims in 2015-2017, totalling US$384 million. Main engine damage is the most expensive category, with a total cost of US$131 million representing 34% of the value of all machinery claims.

The average cost of main engine claims has increased by 21% compared to 2010-2014, reaching almost US$650,000. The club noted that an increase in costs has been seen in all machinery claims due to the increase in cost for labour and spare parts.

The report also confirms that slow-speed engines are less prone to damage than high-speed or medium-speed engines. Medium- and high-speed engines are two-and-a-half times more frequently damaged compared with slow-speed engines. They also have a disproportionate claims cost, representing 43% of the value of machinery claims despite accounting for just 28% of insured vessels.

The study, which includes tips on avoiding claims from MAN Energy Solutions and Wärtsilä, can be downloaded here.

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