Whilst it is worth initially noting that whilst every vessel is different and built with different materials, maintenance is an extremely important part of the running of your vessel.
While a critical safety factor, maintenance related issues do not always receive the attention they deserve. Maintenance issues are often difficult to detect and not generally linked to safety and therefore are not recorded.
The Importance of Maintenance
Maintenance ensures that a vessel, engine, etc. continues to perform its intended function as per its design in relation to the level of safety and reliability.
Examples of issues that could lead to technical failure include:
- unsuitable modification to parts
- omission of maintenance checks
- incomplete installations
- a fault not being isolated
- missing equipment.
While many maintenance-related errors seem inconsequential, they have the potential to remain dormant and can affect the safe operation of a vessel over time.
How often do I need to complete maintenance checks?
Programmed maintenance of vessel and its equipment should be undertaken in accordance with the schedules specified in your SMS Manual. To ensure the safety and efficiency, inspections should be carried out prior to departure and at monthly and annually intervals at a minimum.
Where lapses have occurred in undertaking repairs and/or maintenance these are to be recorded in either the SMS or the Maintenance Log. The owner or Master is responsible for corrective actions to be undertaken within the timeframe specified in the vessels SMS.
Consideration may be given to the severity, nature and potential impact of any repairs or defects in relation to the corrective action required. Where there is no potential impact on the safety of the vessel, persons onboard, other vessels and the environment – the time required may be extended accordingly. Any extension in times should be recorded in the vessels Log Book.
The Master is responsible for ensuring all machinery, equipment and other technical and electronic equipment is maintained and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions at all times.
The maintaining of all inspection records is the either the Master or the Engineer if caried.
When and Where do I need to inspect?
These checks are to be in accordance with the vessels pre-departure check list.
The following areas/items should be inspected at a minimum every month:
- Hull, Deck & Superstructure
- Machiney, Fuel and Steering Systems
- Fire & Safety Equipment
- Miscellaneous – such as anchors, chain, line, winch and signage etc
The following areas/items should be inspected at least once a year:
- Hull, Deck & Superstructure – External
- Hull, Deck & Superstructure – Internal
- General Arrangements including Internal structures, stairs and air dampeners
- Anchors, Chain and Equipment
- Machinery, Steering and Fuel Systems
- Electrical Systems
- Navigation Equipment
- Safety Equipment
- Fire systems and Equipment
Identifying, addressing and managing maintenance-related risks is an important part of your Safety Management System (SMS). The SMS must include a planned maintenance schedule as well as a pre-departure checklist. Planned maintenance should include regular checks, servicing, visual inspections and operational tests.
Equipment failures and vessel breakdowns can cause accidents, putting everyone on board in danger.
It is important to keep proper records of what maintenance has been done. This allows you to track when you are due for maintenance and helps prove you are proactive about the safety of your operation.
Another common question we’re getting is do I have to record all my maintenance? The answer is YES you need to record all your maintenance, both scheduled and non-scheduled.
Scheduled maintenance includes everything from oil changes to annual refits and everything in between.
Unscheduled maintenance is things like when you have to repair engines, gearboxes, refrigeration or anything else due to a breakdown or hull repairs to an incident, etc.
All of these things must be recorded in an appropriate manner. You can use a Maintenance Log Book like ours below or maintenance record forms in your SMS, in an electronic maintenance program or even in an Excel spreadsheet but…it must be recorded.
We have a number of clients using specially designed maintenance software programs while others are using either our Maintenance Log Books or ones they’ve developed.
The other question is do we have to keep the records onboard? Simple answer, NO. Again, a number of our clients use our Maintenance Log Book and keep it ashore as they have shore-based maintenance personnel.
Many of our smaller clients use the maintenance form we have in our SMS Manuals and store them in their SMS.
Others use our maintenance form and store them in the cloud enabling maintenance to be recorded and having it accessible to onboard crew and shore-based staff and/or owners.
No matter which method you choose it’s no use unless you ensure all maintenance is recorded when it’s done not a month later.
My crews would often say I was too annal in recording maintenance as I insisted in everything being recorded down to changing light globes which may sound a bit extreme.
The benefit of that was upon return from a trip they had changed light globes in one cabin 6 times during that trip. This indicated an electrical fault which had the potential to cause a fire!
You don’t have to go to that extreme but must always ensure maintenance relevant to the operation and safety of the vessel are recorded. This demonstrates to AMSA that you run a professional operation!
First recommendation is to ensure you have a method of recording maintenance that suits your requirements, and all maintenance is recorded.
Second is to ensure your SMS has a maintenance schedule or program that outlines what you inspect and/or service and at what intervals, e.g., monthly, annually, etc.
For most of our clients we develop monthly and annual schedules while a few have monthly and biannual programmes in place. The bottom line is the schedule must suit your operations.
In our Maintenance Log Books and forms we include a column for the person undertaking the maintenance to sign of on it.
Our best tip is to record all maintenance, no matter how big or small it is. We recommend recording everything from the replacement of fuses and light globes to major component items such as engines, gearboxes, etc.
This provides a chronological account of all maintenance which gives you a detailed look at how the vessel is running and identifies any areas that may require special attention.
Click Here to view the Maintenance Log Book. If you wish, you can order with free postage.