Simplex-Compact Airspace seal can continue to use mineral oil under VGP 2013

Simplex-Compact Airspace seal is recognised as an environmentally friendly, non-pollution seal which can continue to use mineral oils under the terms of the Vessel General Permit 2013


Simplex-Turbulo, UK agent for SKF Blohm + Voss Industries, is delighted to announce that, as of yesterday, the Simplex-Compact Airspace sterntube seal manufactured by SKF Blohm + Voss Industries is now officially recognised as an environmentally friendly, non-pollution seal under the terms of the new Vessel General Permit 2013 (VGP 2013). The air chamber, which separates the oil and the water, ensures there is no oil-to-water interface through which oil can enter the seawater under normal operating conditions. As a result the seal together with the whole sterntube can continue to be lubricated with mineral oils.

On 17 March, 2014, SKF Blohm + Voss Industries, manufacturers of the Airspace sterntube seal, finally received the required third party verification from DNV GL confirming that the Simplex-Compact Airspace seal excludes any possible contamination of sea water under normal operating conditions.

At a webinar on February 14 this year, co-presented with SKF Blohm + Voss Industries, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that it would exclude seals with a special air chamber system, such as the Simplex-Compact Airspace, from the VGP 2013 regulations for oil-water interfaces provided that there was third party verification from a recognised certification body that no pollution of the seawater could take place under normal operating conditions.  Following the DNV GL verification, SKF Blohm + Voss Industries can now make the assurance that a complete sterntube system equipped with an Airspace seal can continue to be operated using mineral oils.

simplex, airspace, seal
a cut away diagram of an airspace seal

One of the requirements of the VGP 2013 regulations is that commercial ships with a length of more than 79 feet sailing in US waters must use what are termed Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EAL) at interfaces where oil could mix with seawater. For ships equipped with a Simplex-Compact Airspace seal, this regulation no longer applies in respect of the sterntube lubricants.

A key feature of the Airspace seal is that it provides an additional level of security preventing oil escaping into seawater. It is the only seal on the market that regulates the pressure in the air chamber in order to prevent any air escaping into the seawater and consequently the Airspace seal avoids the risk of escaping air carrying with it the oil particles which may be present in the air chamber.

VGP 2013 came into force on 19th December 2013. Any ship that has its keel laid down after this date and sails in US waters must comply with the VGP 2013 regulations. The same applies to ships following their first scheduled dry docking after this date. 

“To ensure their sterntube systems comply with the requirements of VGP 2013, ship operators now have three options,” explains Claus Beiersdorfer, Sales Director of SKF Blohm + Voss Industries. “They can operate either with mineral oils and our Airspace seal; use water-lubricated seals; or use standard seals with EALs. Standard seals require special sealing material. SKF Blohm + Voss Industries offers commercially viable solutions for all three of these options.”