Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and Port Sate Control Officers (PSCOs) announced that they increasingly find that some crew members are unfamiliar with the operation and maintenance of outboard motors, which can result in poor performance or total failure of these motors. This is a risk that cannot be taken during a rescue operation, because the consequences could be catastrophic.
As AMSA states, rescue boats aim to rescue persons in distress and to marshal survival craft. Whilst the proper functioning of the rescue boats is masters' responsibility, the crew has also the responsibility to know the proper function as well. The main issues that AMSA has found are the following:
- Some crew operate the motor without any cooling water, which will result in damage of the water pump and possibly result in failure,
- Manufacturer’s operating manuals are not always available and crew are unsure of the type of outboard motor fitted and its associated systems,
Specifically, during inspections of outboard motors, AMSA PSCOs have found various defects including:
- blocked cooling water inlet mesh/ports
- tell-tale holes blocked by salt deposits, broken pieces of rubber or by paint
- worn out impellers
- salt water deposits in cooling water passages.
In order to solve the above problem, AMSA cites a practice guidance:
- Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) and the International Safety management (ISM) Code require that ships crews are properly familiarised with the operation and maintenance of emergency equipment. The ISM Code, under element 10.3, requires that companies identify equipment the sudden operational failure of which may result in a hazardous situation.
- The ship’s SMS should ensure that effective maintenance procedures for rescue boat inboard and/or outboard motors are developed and included in the ship’s planned maintenance system. Manufacturers instruction manuals must also be available on-board, as should a fully inventory of the manufacturer recommended spares.
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