Emergency Stern Seal Service Attendance to Salvage Sinking Cargo Vessel.
We are going back in the archives to share a story that illustrates the importance of regular stern seal service.
It began with the dreaded phone call; it was quickly apparent that the vessel owner was in real trouble. He was explaining that his ship was taking in large quantities of seawater due to a stern seal problem. Therefore, we mobilised our engineer immediately. To be clear, this wasn’t a routine failure, the vessel was located in the North Atlantic and was in trouble.
Upon our engineers’ arrival, he was presented with this worrying situation…
The Dive Team
Despite the pumps being in operation for several hours, access was prohibited to the engine room until the water had cleared from the deck. During the initial stages, the flow and depth of water were too dangerous for us to perform any repair much to our frustration but safety first. At this point, the dive team was called upon, to prevent the vessel from slowly sinking. Plan B was put into action, the quick-thinking team decided to wrap the exposed tail shaft and stem the flow.
Water and Propeller Damage
Thankfully, this temporary measure reduced the water intake enough for Stone Marine to gain access and inspect the failure.
These images reveal the extent of the damage inside the water-stained vessel.
On closer inspection, the divers exposed the destruction to the propeller blades. The images below reveal the broken blade tips due to oxidisation. The shaft was wearing down through the hull and ultimately this burst the seals.
The Vessel back in Operation
When it was safe for our engineer to gain access, we carried out the emergency repair to the FWD seal box and liner to allow for the vessel to be towed into drydock. This ship had only just come out of drydock, and this outcome was the result of a vessel owner neglecting a regular stern tube seal replacement.
In the end, the cost of avoiding regular maintenance was in the millions. The moral of the story is, don’t take shortcuts when it comes to stern seal service and maintenance.