USCG Warns For Inspection Of Electrical Deficiencies On Commercial Vessels


The US Coast Guard is warning commercial vessel owners to inspect their vessels’ wiring before getting underway in the spring.


The increased reports on electrical deficiencies on commercial vessels made the USCG give advance warning to the vessel owners to make a complete inspection of their vessel’s wiring before getting underway in the spring.

Some examples of common discrepancies include:

  • Dead-ended wiring: When equipment is changed or removed, new wiring is installed. Often the old wiring is not removed or properly put in a junction box.  This poses a shock hazard if the wiring is still energized.
  • Compromised watertight integrity: When wiring that penetrates a watertight bulkhead is replaced, the penetration must be made watertight.  If it is not properly addressed, the watertight integrity and fire boundary of the space becomes compromised.
  • Wire Chafing: Wire runs that are susceptible to vibrations and movements need adequate protection where pinch points and rub hazards exist.  Excessive wear can compromise the sheathing and insulator.  This can cause a circuit short or fault and in some cases result in a component failure or fire.
  • Deteriorated wiring: Wiring exposed to water can become deteriorated over time, compromising the integrity of the sheathing and insulator.  This can cause a circuit short or fault and in some cases result in a component failure or fire.

The possible effects of electrical failure:

  • Electrical hazards can lead to deaths and injuries such as shocks and burns.
  • They can also lead to shipboard fires, explosions and the disabling (through blackouts) of essential equipment and services on board which can compromise safety.

A study reveals that, between 2011 and 2015, a total of 87 electrical related incidents were reported.  The basic cause of these incidents are categorised into injuries (23), fires (14), equipment/electrical failures (47) and near misses (3).


The reports of the electrical inspection data from the Port State Control and Flag State Control point to electrical deficiency hazards such as; low insulation (50%), earth faults (34%), unsafe wiring (11%), protection/isolation issues (3%) and power supply problems (2%)


It is very much essential that we control losses due to electrical deficiencies.  The ASMA has listed certain control measures to be followed regarding electrical wiring deficiencies at various levels.

Control Measures at the organisational level

  • Ensure appropriate supervision is provided
  • Put in place safe operating processes and procedures
  • Carry out risk assessments for all electrical work
  • Adequate maintenance, including inspection and testing
  • Ensure that fatigue and workload is managed appropriately

Control Measures at the technical level

  • Equipment design (ensuring safe design)
  • Appropriate warning signs are in place including proper labelling for tag/lockouts
  • Appropriate use of surge protective devices
  • Ensure electrical systems are properly isolated when required
  • Carry out regular insulation testing
  • Ensure there are clear and concise manuals for use of electrical equipment

Control Measures at the individual level

  • Appropriate training knowledge and awareness of electrical hazards
  • Appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Report of electrical safety related incidents and near misses.

Source & Image/ Figure Credits: AMSA


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