Isle of Wight-based firm, Carisbrooke Shipping has announced its first three months under Emission Control Areas (ECA) regulations as ‘problem-free’.
The company operates a fleet of 60 vessels, with a large majority running in and out of Europe’s ECA on a constant basis and some of which also operate in North America’s ECA.
While many ship operators are feeling the impact of new bunker rules in ECAs, which regulates the amount of sulphur content vessels are able to use in certain waters, Carisbrooke’s Chief Executive Robert Wester says that the company has managed to continue running “without a hitch”.
“We are delighted to be able to report that our first three months of ECA operation have been problem-free,” says Wester. “We put this down, in part, to careful preparation supported by the skill and diligence of our seagoing staff. Despite the new challenges, we have continued to offer our usual high standards of service to charterers and end users.”
Switching fuel can pose a number of problems for ship operators and owners. Fuel systems set-up on board ships can vary. In addition heavy fuel oil and low-sulphur distillates work at different temperatures and rapid changes in fuel supply to the main engine can risk thermal damage to machinery components.
During changeover, the two fuels are inevitably mixed, leading to the possible clogging of filters and, in the worst case, main engine failure.
Fleet Technical Director, Martin Henry, explained: “Knowing what kind of serious failures and problems can occur during the extremely critical period of fuel changeover if not managed well, we decided that careful preparation was a priority, not least because the regulations were to enter force at the very worst time of the year when weather conditions are often at their most severe.
“Bearing in mind that many of our vessels are constantly in and out of ECA-regulated waters, we assessed each group of ships in our fleet to see what modifications would be required in terms of fuel tank allocation and piping arrangements,” he continues. “On some ships, there was a considerable amount of work needed – seven vessels needed MGO coolers, for example. But our Green ships, on the other hand, were built with the new fuel regulations in mind and required no modifications.”
“We seconded two serving Senior Chief Engineers to Head Office and between them, they visited all of our vessel series, carrying out actual change-overs to and from MGO in order to draw up suitably detailed change-over procedures. These vary because on board some of the older vessels, there is limited tank capacity for distillate fuel and more time is required for the change-over process. On others, we had to reorganise fuel supply pipework where this was economically viable.”
Wester also outlined the differences in Carisbrooke’s operation, compared with deep-sea ship operators. For a start, he says, short-sea operators have fewer options when it comes to compliance with the new regulations.
“Unlike deep-sea operators, the economics of scrubber installation to clean exhaust gas, or engine retrofits to burn alternative fuels such as liquid natural gas simply don’t stack up. In relatively small ships, there are also space and stability constraints relating to scrubber installations”.