Slow-steam ahead

A gas carrier managed by one of ITIC’s members suffered main engine damage. The owners conducted a survey on the main engine and found that the piston ring had been subject to excessive use and caused damage to the main engine. The manufacturer of the piston ring recommended a working life of 8,000 hours but the manager allowed it to be used for slightly longer. The owners claimed that the member’s negligence caused the damage to the engine.

The ship was slow-steamed during the member’s management and it was suggested that this slow-steaming also added to the damage. When the damage to the main engine came to light, the manager replaced the piston ring but, to save fuel, the ship continued at 50% speed.

ITIC obtained technical analysis of the claim. Slow-speeding over extended periods is widely known to risk damaging the engine. The decision to slow-steam was taken by the owner and ultimate responsibility rests with him. In addition, the owner’s representative on board, the chief engineer, would have seen the damage as it developed and should have reported it to the owner. It also came to light that the ship had been slow-steamed under a previous manager for a longer period. In view of the fact that the ship was slow-steamed for a longer period before the member took over her management, most of the damage would have occurred already. There was no conclusive proof that the damage to the engine was not caused fundamentally by the slow-steaming and that the late replacement of the piston-ring had a negligible impact.

This analysis was the basis of a strong defence and settlement was agreed for a nominal amount.

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