SKF Blohm + Voss Industries GmbH (SKF BVI) and their UK agents, Simplex-Turbulo Co Ltd (STC), recently undertook a series of VGP 2013 training seminars with various customers to inform ship managers of the changes that have now been in place since the 19th December 2013. These changes affect all vessels trading in US coastal waters which are larger than 79 feet. Recreational vessels are excluded, but not if the yacht is in commercial use or carries paying passengers. The new rules cover all vessels with a keel-laying date after 19th December 2013 as well as all existing vessels when they next drydock after this date.
SKF BVI products which are affected by the new rules are:
1. Sterntube seal systems and fin stabilisers where there are oil to water interfaces
2. Cathodic protection at SIMPLEX seals and stabilizers
3. TURBULO bilge water separator discharges
Christian Richter and Uwe Hawer of SKF BVI, both highly experienced in the marine sector, went through the regulations and the potential solutions available to the ship managers during a series of sessions. The events provided an ideal opportunity for Fleet Managers and Marine Superintendents to verify the optimum solution for each of their vessels – no one solution suits every application.
The seminars coincided with the start of production of the new SIMPLEX SC3 sterntube seal from SKF B+VI. The new SC3 design incorporates a number of significant improvements. Perhaps the most important is the new Bio seal material which permits the seal to operate in conjunction with EAL’s for five years without the special operational restrictions on water content and oil temperature which are a feature of traditional materials. In addition the design of the ring itself has been further improved in order to reduce pressure and heat generation under the tip of the ring. Lubrication pockets have been added to the ring in order to improve lubrication and increase operating lifetimes. The result is a seal which will offer a hassle free five year docking cycle even when using EAL’s with no requirement for additional crew interventions.
An alternative way in which to comply with the VGP rules is to install the SIMPLEX AIRSPACE. The SKF BVI designed SIMPLEX AIRSPACE has been independently certified by both DNV-GL and LR as having no oil-to-water interface. As a result the SIMPLEX AIRSPACE can continue to be used with standard mineral oil lubricants. Consequently vessels fitted with the SIMPLEX AIRSPACE avoid the cost of changing the sterntube oil from a mineral oil to an EAL, which is typically between €6- €8 per litre more expensive than traditional mineral oil. With sterntube oil volumes often in excess of 4,000 litres (including onboard reserves), the cost savings can be significant. The simplicity of carrying only one oil type onboard for multiple lubrication needs is also not to be overlooked.
It should be noted that an EAL is defined as an ester based lubricant that breaks down in accordance with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s test procedures into its environmentally friendly constituent parts when in the presence of water. Not all bio-oils are ester based and, therefore, not all bio-oils are EALs. It should also be noted that any leakage of lubricant to the sea, whether a mineral oil or an EAL, is still a violation of the latest VGP 2013 regulations.
Uwe Hawer also visited the Simplex offices in Wherwell on Friday 6th of March to give training to Simplex staff on SKF products, passing over his years of experience to keen employees. Over the course of the morning day Uwe went from teaching the very basics as part of the induction of new staff, to the intricacies of sterntube seals with those more senior. His visit was greatly appreciated by all who attended the seminars – Thanks!