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SGMF publishes guidelines for safe dry docking of vessels that use gas as bunker fuel

04 Jun 2020

Non-governmental organisation Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF) on Wednesday (3 June) published new guidance on work practices for maintenance, repair and dry-dock operations for ships that use gas/ liquified natural gas (LNG) as fuel to help ensure the safe maintenance of gas-fuelled ships. 

In future, an increasing number of ships will switch to using gas as a marine fuel, said SGMF.

However, shipping companies who use gas as a marine fuel will need to be prepared for when their gas-fuelled ships undergo routine maintenance in dry dock. 

While cargo is normally removed from a vessel as part of the drydocking process, sometimes fuel is not.

With 185 gas fuelled ships in active service and with another 212 on order, the release of this publication is timely since it is important that prior to any docking both ship owner, operator or manager and shipyard fully understand the safety requirements of the gas fuel management during the dry docking period, explained SGMF.

For ships using gas fuel, such as LNG, a rigorous approach must be undertaken to maintain safety.

As such, this new guidance details techniques and precautions that can be applied to minimise the hazards of LNG/gaseous fuels – in many cases, allowing the use of traditional maintenance techniques. Where this is not possible, the guidance discusses alternative methods.

The guidance also offers a risk assessment approach and covers all aspects of LNG fuel management while preparing for the docking and during the docking process. 

Furthermore, it provides the required details and direction for ship owners to select prequalified shipyards.

Local national and international regulatory authorities can also all draw upon, or refer to, the philosophy methodology and content of this publication when it comes to the maintenance of gas fuelled ships. 

Although this guidance will give the majority of detail required, SGMF advises ship owners, operators and managers to fully understand the implications of having LNG onboard and appoint an LNG specialist within the fleet and the yard.

“I am really proud to see that yet another unique and much needed publication has been compiled by SGMF, drawn together by our expert members under the guidance of David Haynes, Principal Safety Advisor to SGMF,”said Mark Bell, General Manager, SGMF.

“As more and more ships start to use gas fuel, the industry is now equipped with a reference document to ensure the safe maintenance and drydocking of gas-fuelled ships.”

The document ‘Gas as a Marine Fuel: Work practices for maintenance, repair and dry dock operations’ is available for purchase here.

Photo credit: Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel
Published: 4 June, 2020

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