Main Engine Fuel Pump Damage – Guess Why?


fuel pump


A Vessel technically managed by a very large Ship Management company visited Houston and found that all fuel pumps had suffered damage.  The lab had been testing fuels for several previous bunkerings and in none of the cases, the cat-fines in the fuel was high.  The Ship Management company was intrigued and requested the lab to visit the ship, inspect the damage and take the samples and test it.


Lab staff visited the ship. What do you think they found?

Voice your views and guess what could have gone wrong?

We thank you for the below comments. Here we reveal the background of what actually happened.

The first thing the lab staff asked the ship staff was if the settling and service tanks were drained periodically. The ship staff vociferously claimed that these two tanks were drained every 8 hours. After this, the lab staff pressed the spring loaded drain valve on the settling tank and water came out for the next 20 minutes and also thick oil. The oil sample was drawn and it showed 1,200 ppm of catfines when tested in the lab.


The ship staff never drained the service and settling tanks for many days or even weeks and all the cat-fines and water settled at the bottom and their level increased to reach the outlet pipe level and the engine received water and cat-fines at very high levels with some fuel leading to the above reported serious damage.


  1. Settling and Service tank has to be drained regularly.
  2. A Senior officer/Engineer must cross check the same and ensure that all the shipboard staff are aware of the consequence.
  3. During a Ship Visit, A Technical Superintendent can check the same to ensure that the vessel follows the best engineering practice.
  4. It is recommended to occasionally draw representative samples from the tanks and get it tested at Viswa Lab.
  5. Please note: Viswa Lab has seen cases where the tank samples contained very high amounts of Cat-fines and water, of which one of the cases is reported above.
  6. It is recommended to carry out Purifier efficiency test, in order to ascertain that the purifier is performing to its highest efficiency.

Have any questions? – comment below or write to us.




  1. Good day,

    Probable cause,

    1.The purifiers were acting as a transfer pump.
    2.10-15 Micron filters were bypassed or damaged .
    3. Service tank contamination during fuel changeover or wrong valve operation on the setting tank return line.

    Very very sad and tough time for Engineers and Engine room ratings.

    Kind regards,

    • Dear Mr. Dhaar,

      Thank you for the comments. The points which you have suggested are perfect.
      We will reveal the actual case on Monday.

  2. Good day Sir,
    The engineers never apply any cleaning to the settle tank or service tank. The catfines accumunating there & while ship rolling at the bad weather then damaged to the those fuel oil pumps.

    • Dear Mr. Chau,

      Thanks for your comments. excellent guess and it is very close to the actual case. We will reveal the same on Monday.

  3. It is possible that as an ill side effect of automation and unmaned engine room, the engineers become lacking in being in touch with the machinery they are supposed to maintain and for which they were trained

  4. Very correct root cause and recommendations to avoid fuel pump, injectors damaged and filters clogging. We will strictly comply in our fleet ships.

  5. Excellent article! I am looking forward to your continuing efforts to support, educate and represent Ships’ Officers and Crews.

  6. Dear Mr. Conroy,

    Thanks for your comments. Please feel free to share your insights and experiences too!
    We would be happy to share it under your name!

    MFAME Editor