According to a case study published by The Shipowner’s Club, a potential fire hazard discovered onboard a vessel was found to be caused by a failed fuel pipe connection on the supply line to the main engines.
Summary of the incident
The chief engineer was called to the engine room after receiving a report of a leak on a low-pressure fuel supply line. Upon inspection, the engineer was able to perform a temporary repair using self-amalgamating tape to reduce the leak to a weep followed by fiber-glass resin and a bandage in an attempt to seal the leak.
The immediate cause was found to be a failed weld on a T-piece of the pipe. However, the root cause was believed to be the age of the pipe, an original fit from the vessel’s construction, which had incurred natural degradation over a long period of time.
- The leak was discovered early as a result of due diligence and good watchkeeping. This allowed for a controlled temporary repair.
- The vessel notified shore management as soon as was possible after the incident, providing detailed incident reports, supporting information and photographs.
- Vibration from the main engines can be an issue with equipment of this sort. Engineers should remain vigilant in their engine room watchkeeping duties, for potential signs of pipe/equipment failure caused by the vibration.
- Signs of fretting should be investigated as soon as possible.
- Such failings cannot always be foreseen and so vessels should always carry appropriate pipe spares and temporary repair solutions for low-pressure piping such as plastic steel, fiberglass resin, pipe repair claims, etc.
- In this case, a trend in the failure of fuel supply piping was noticed; this was the fourth failure within 4 months.
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