The potential for seafarers to recognize risks to their ship’s
structural integrity long before routine inspections by shore-side
superintendents and classification societies is a valuable
opportunity to improve safety, says Wendy Laursen of DNV.
The demand for in-depth quality assessments of ships and
their owners is steadily increasing as terminal and cargo owners
work to maximize efficiency and safety. Vetting by ship
charterers is particularly stringent for trades involving Australia
and Brazil. At the same time, shortages of skilled staff and the
need to cut costs has left many ship owners and operators with
technical departments short on hull structural knowledge.
As a leading, international classification society, Det Norske
Veritas (DNV) provides periodic inspection services and,
optionally, a condition assessment programme that detects substandard
ships whilst ensuring that old, but well-maintained
vessels, are not discriminated against in the market.
Vetting by charterers, and inspections by classification
societies, only happens at intervals and DNV has recognized that
this opens up another avenue for improving the safety of the
world’s merchant fleet. Seafarers are onboard for extended
periods and they get to know their ship intimately. This means
they have the opportunity to take greater control of their own
safety by ensuring the hull and cargo holds of their vessel are
free of cracks and corrosion as part of their normal working
routine. If properly trained, and provided with a template for
effective reporting, they can make an informed judgement and
report of hull condition. This significantly increases the
information available to superintendents on shore so they, in
turn, can make sound decisions on maintenance and repair.
This training, reporting and on-going safety assessment can be
achieved efficiently through the use of DNV’s Hull Integrity
Management (HIM) scheme.
HIM consists of four elements:
1. Hull competence courses for ship officers and
superintendents that teach basic strength theory and how to
perform ship-type specific inspections to detect structural
2. Hull inspection manuals that are ship-specific with 3D
illustrations of what to look for during inspections, where to
look and how to report it.
3. Nauticus Hull Integrity software that is web-based and used
for planning inspection and maintenance, again with 3D
visualization for ease of communication and understanding.
4. Hull advisory services which complement owners’ own
initiatives by providing on-call expert evaluation on practical
matters concerning ship operation, preparation for dry docking,
ship conversions and trouble-shooting.
Each of the four service elements has a proven track record
in their own right or the whole suite, implemented together,
provides a holistic approach to hull maintenance.
One-day hull inspection courses provide practical training for
on-board ship’s officers and gives them the skills they need to
carry out cargo hold inspections. The course covers a brief
introduction to strength theory but focuses more on where to
look for defects, different types of structural failures, coating
assessment, corrosion assessment and associated reporting. A
computer-based training version of the course is available for
on-board refresher training.
Hull competence courses are provided as a two-day course
which gives superintendents, technical managers and fleet
managers a better understanding of ship structures. Participants
are introduced to basic strength theory, structural defects and
how to conduct cargo hold and ballast tank inspections. An
increased understanding of the structural configuration and
response of ship structures enables participants to accurately
assess the importance of any defects discovered. The training
gives in-depth coverage of different failure modes including
corrosion, cracks, buckling and indents. A key element of the
course is also to build an understanding of the strength response
of a beam subject to different loads and end fixations.
Courses have now been provided for a number of bulk
carrier owners and operators throughout the world. So far,
over 2,500 participants have received the training which is
perceived in the industry as the missing link between tertiarylevel
training and real world experiences. DNV has also
delivered hull inspection manuals to over 250 vessels and, their
advisory services, which have to date focused on docking
services (to cut costs) and troubleshooting (to reduce down
time), have realized cost reduction potentials from 500,000 to
U$2 million for the companies involved.
Although public attention has, in the past, focused on oil
tankers and disasters such as the losses of Erica and Prestige, it
is increasingly turning to the potential for disasters involving
other vessels, including bulk carriers, with zero tolerance for oil
Charterers notice better maintained vessels, maintenance
costs drop, accident risk reduces and compliance with
regulations and standards is easier to achieve. DNV’s hull
integrity program is a move away from traditional, prescriptive
classification services as the objective is to assist owners and
operators to do their own assessment, towards their own hull
standard, and to reap the benefits to their operation and
reputation. However, whether working with owners on matters
of regulation or voluntary improvement, DNV’s fundamental role
remains the same: to safeguard life, property and the