Thursday, February 18, 2010

Good riddance to bad wires

Anyone sailing on oil tankers has grappled with fire wires. Fire wires, also referred to as (ETOPS- emergency tow-off pennants system) must have seemed to be a swell thing to the guy who came up with the idea. The concept is that if there is a fire onboard an oil tanker or the terminal when a tanker is tied alongside, the oil tanker is to keep wires ready hanging overside on the sea side. Shore tugs will simply tie up to these wires and pull the ship off the jetty to safety. Thus in an emergency, there would be no confusion such as tying up the tugs and all that.
Well apparently it worked out well only in theory. Firewires (38mm in dia and about 120 m in length) are the crappiest piece of gear that is found on modern oil tankers. And we have our share of crappy gears. Everything about the fire wire from stowing, to deploying to adjusting it is a pain. All we ever got out of the fire wire was trips, bruises and a filthy mouth.
Apparently, word does get around. In 2007, OCIMF asked LR to carry out a risk assessment for fire wires in the industry and the results surprised even me. Apparently, fire wires have been deployed on tankers since 1967. And in that time they have not been used even once. Not once. On the other hand, fire wires have caused about seventeen hundred minor or major injuries in that period.
Thanks to this study by LR, OCIMF has finally stopped recommending the deployment of fire wires. Also they have amended the SIRE VIQ accordingly. This is great news. 1967 was a long time back so by the time the terminals and loading masters decide that its allright not to rig the wire, it might be a fair amount of time. But still, it is a beginning and hopefully soon we'll have one less thing to swear about at sea.

If you are interested, you can read the Risk assessment by Lloyds out here. Its an interesting read.

1 comment:

Mannu said...

i surely had to comment ,:-)

Thank god, one thing is out! it is truely a painful thing.
and there are many more.like, why dont they think of connecting that ODME to ballast system, and reduce use of ballast sighting ports.