Maersk extends survey periods

12 Mar 2010

A.P. Møller-Mærsk A/S (APMM) and ABS have agreed to extend out-of-water drydocking periods from five to seven and a half years for eligible vessels. The agreement signed this week covers an initial fleet of 14 Maersk Line containerships.

It has been initiated under a pilot program approved by the Danish Maritime Authority wherein vessels may undergo two underwater examinations before the traditional out-of-water drydock inspection is required.

The pilot program, also approved by the Singapore and UK maritime administrations, imposes strict requirements for eligibility and ongoing maintenance for vessels to be accepted into and retained within the program.

These constraints include, among others, entry into the program is restricted to vessels which are less than five years old and the provision expires once the vessel reaches 15 years of age. It requires manufacturer guarantees that the underwater coatings used are designed to last for the extended period, the implementation of an active condition monitoring and preventative maintenance program and the application of a structured hull inspection system.

“We have been discussing this option with APMM and various flag States for over three years,” says ABS Chief Surveyor Lenny Pendexter. “Although we had agreement in principle, we had to be satisfied that the coatings would, in fact, provide the lifespan that the manufacturers were projecting. We feel that the seven and half year period between drydockings is now feasible, although we will retain the right to require a suspension of the program if in-service experience indicates that an out-of-water inspection may be required, whether due to damage, coating breakdown or other reasons.”

Both sides are in agreement, however, that this program is a recognition that the maritime industry today is vastly different to the one when many of the traditional survey requirements were first implemented. “Newbuilding techniques, coating application requirements, the coatings themselves and the tools available to track the structural condition of the hull have all been subject to tremendous development and improvement so it is only natural that these improvements should be reflected in the manner in which surveys are conducted,” says Steen Nygaard Madsen, director, fleet manager - technical vessel operation for Maersk Line.

Pending final review and confirmation, the 14 initial vessels entered into the contract will also receive the ABS voluntary Hull Inspection and Maintenance Program (HIMP) class notation and will use the ABS Hull Inspection software that has been developed to provide owners with an easy-to-use method for both the ship and shore offices to track the condition of the structure on a compartmentalized basis. APMM was one of the industry partners who participated in the development, testing and refinement of the ABS Hull Inspection Program.

Using a traffic light warning system, the program assigns grades to pre-defined zones in each compartment based on inspection criteria covering coating condition, general corrosion, localized corrosion, deformation, fractures and cleanliness. The companion software, supplied by ABS Nautical Systems, a division of ABS, will provide APMM with a pre-populated ship model specific to each ship entered into the program, a visual interface representing the hull condition and a single database to record defects and preventative measures.

“This new agreement is a further example of how we can bring together the power of our technical capabilities with the functionality of our Nautical Systems software to provide our clients with integrated programs,” ABS president and coo, Christopher J. Wiernicki says.
Maersk Line’s crew members assigned to the vessels entered into the extended drydocking program will undergo training on the ABS hull inspection methodology to learn what, where and how to inspect and also how the Nautical Systems software interface can best leverage their inspection results through reporting and anomaly detection across vessels.

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