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Achieving Maximum Efficiency: Factors to Consider

Discuss about the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan.

The hydrodynamic ship, as it ideally should be, is able to cut through the waves with least resistance and offer savings on the propellant fuel of the ship. To obtain the greatest thermodynamic advantage is to operate with the maximum efficiency, and is a source of savings In terms of fuel costs as well as the effective life of the vessel. To achieve this normally the modifiable factors are the hull shape which would guide the aerodynamics of flow majorly creating the least resistance in the way of the vessel and providing the aerodynamic thrust to propel the ship forward with least fuel consumption (Hull Coatings for Vessel Performance, 2008).

The Second way to achieve the desired efficiency is to go with the correct hull coating specifications so as to obtain the maximum efficiency while complying with the environmental standards. A tanker at its design speed will use the majority of its fuel overcoming frictional resistance in calm water. The size of frictional resistance is dramatically impacted by the roughness of the surface exposed to flow, as mentioned by ABS in its publication ( Ship Energy Efficiency measures: Status and Guidance, 2006). Thus micrometers of increase in hull roughness can drastically affect the efficiency characteristics, mandating the need for regulation of the same. Again, the amount of fuel burnt is directly proportional to the emissions of the ship. Drastic reduction to economic consumption is thus necessary to provide efficiency and economy in addition to environmental benefits.

In the period following a dry dock, or a lay-up, a smooth timely start-up with the least lag time for re-commissioning is essential. The Necessary safety repairs and servicing must be done prior to a lay-up. The safety equipment existing must all be in usable and fairly good condition ready for a hasty restart. Lighting and fire-fighting equipment must be maintained in a condition fit to use during the lay-up. Chemicals, gases and paints plus any other flammable material must be removed from the spot to ensure safety. Security considerations must be made and Ship’s Security Officer must arrange security measures and procedures with the administration responsible for the lay-up facility. The onboard fire fighting system must be fully operational with all the supporting equipment ready at hand. This would include the hoses, extinguishers, CO2 systems and security supplies so as not to compromise on the safety aspect at any point in time. For engine maintenance specially in the case of diesel operated engines, it is vital to monitor continuously the condition of the engine. This can be done on a regular basis lubrication and cold cranking of the engine to ensure that it is operational in the system. For engines shut down for a longer period, ideally the chamber should be filled with a proportionate mixture of the fuel and some anti-corrosive gas and closing the air apertures on cranking. The miscibility of these with the lubricating fuel should be confirmed by the manufacturers. Hull cleaning, propeller polishing and maintaining the existing condition of all the vital component necessary at run-time must be done diligently on a regular basis (Guidelines for Lay-Up of Ships, 2008).

Best Practices for Starting Up and Maintenance

When a container is re-started, any unresolved surveys must be done together with a complete check of the whole machinery installation. Contingent on the period of the lay-up, a test that may be done after consultation with the individual Classification society. A recrudescence or complete audit of the ship’s Safety Administration System must also be made, dependent on how extended the vessel has been sedentary (Guidelines for Lay-Up of Ships, 2008).

In general, the performance of a ship in service is different from that gotten on shipyard sea trial. Apart from any changes due to loading circumstances, and for which due alteration should be made, these changes arise mainly from the climate, entangling and surface worsening of the hull and propeller (Borkowski, Kowalak, & Myskow, 2012). The major role of ship service analysts as can be expected through intuition is to create a log for the standard performance of the characteristics shown by the vessel under various operating conditions. From identification and analysis of the patterns shown by the hull and machinery, relevant trends can then be determined which may further be used for evaluating potential failure of the vessel at a particular operating condition. Thus trend analysis is essential in the analysis and prediction of the hull performance in a variety of operating scenarios.

The method of data collection as followed is primarily from the ship log books and records as maintained on board the vessel, and it serves as the primary source of data which is most readily and extensively available at hand. While this method is the most widely followed, it presents in itself a significant risk of data distortion. Instrumentation errors are always a potential cause off worry for correct analysis and recording and as such can be prevented by various techniques of data analysis. For trend analysis itself, engine torsional power or brake power is calculated through various techniques which may include rotational speed and torque measurement on the engine flywheel, the propulsion shaft or the individual engine cylinders. These are then further tabulated and presented in the form of charts to perform the actual trend analysis of performance characteristics (Borkowski, Kowalak, & Myskow, 2012).


The experimental data sets are usually taken for several varying ranges of engine load levels, which generally range from about 25% of minimal load and up to the extreme acceptable boundary for engine action. From the subsequent charting of data, significant information of the trends obtained in power characteristics at different loading levels of the engine can be further determined. Maximum combustion pressure, engine brake and shaft power in addition to hull performance and characteristics are thus empirically determined through trend analysis.

Trend Analysis: The Role of Ship Service Analysts

A marine surveyor may be defined as the person who undertakes regular inspections on the conditions of ships or marine vessels and does regular surveys on the same in order to report on the running condition of the same and comment on the existing performance and compliance as offered. This include inspection of the cargo in itself in addition to the various existing equipment that is vital for the smooth operation of the vessel including firefighting equipment, radio among others. They hold a prestigious position for their experience and expertise in the particular industry and are held with respect and regard in the respective field. They normally are chosen after rigorous examination and competence testing as enormous vessels are declared safe to set sail or go into operations based on their level of experience, analysis and judgment.

The typical job of the inspector is also to act in accordance with the insurers of the various components in a vessel as they are not nearly experienced mostly to judge the condition of the article being claimed or to perform an overall assessment of the condition of the vessel. Independent surveyors are often hired by the insuring companies in order to make thorough investigation about the working condition and overall assessment of the vessel who claims against insurance. A marine surveyor may also execute the following errands:

  • Perform reviews required by domestic decrees and international agreements by theInternational Maritime Organization or the IMO
  • Observe tests and action of extra and safety apparatus and equipment.
  • Measure ships for capacity and review them for load duty.
  • Be present in court as a proficient witness and support in coroner's investigations.
  • Inspect marine accidents.


A combination of propellers that can be placed in pods and rotated to any horizontal angle or Azimuth is normally called an Azimuth thruster, causing the existing rudder to be unnecessary for steering purposes. These vessels also give better maneuvering as compared to the conventional rudder based steering system.

English discoverer Francis Ronalds labeled what he named a “Propelling Rudder” in 1859 that united the thrust and steering appliances of a boat in a single gear. The propeller was positioned in a mount having an external profile comparable to a rudder and also connected to a perpendicular shaft that permitted the device to revolve in plan while swirl was conveyed to the propeller (Ronalds, 2016).

Much later, around the year 1950, the modern day Azimuth thruster with Z drive propulsion was developed by Joseph Becker. Primary rewards are electrical competence, improved use of ship space, and lower maintenance costs. Tugboats are not usually needed to dock for the vessels equipped with this kind of steering system, despite tugboats being needed for a variety of other applications. The mechanical thrusters of the Azimuth type are normally also retractable or underwater mountable in terms of the variants that they are available in. Fixed installed types are also available, which are normally used in the tugboats, normal ferries and smaller supply boats. Retractable ones are also used for the auxiliary propulsion of vessels which are positioned dynamically.  

The Importance of Marine Surveyors

Roll on roll off type cargo ships are normally used to carry wheeled cargo, which may include small, medium and largely sized cars, buses, trucks and other passenger or commercial vehicles. They differ from crane using vehicles or lift on lift off vehicles wherein a crane is used to lift the car or the vehicle off the ship and into the ship in the sense that the cars are normally dismantled from the ship on their own wheels or using a platform vehicle.

Thus the primary requirement for these vessels is for the vehicle to be able to efficiently roll on or roll off the vessel when it is in port. This efficiency goes a long way in time saving and measurement of the overall efficiency of the vessel. The term RORO is normally coined for large volume vessels normally dealing with heavy vehicles, with doors normally placed in the stern, bow or the sides for efficient rolling in and rolling out as is mandated by the name. Many ferries with Ro-Ro competence include access by the bow plus by the stern. The bow entrances and bow incline enable for an effectual cargo flow and swift turnaround in port. These doors are therefore essential for a watertight integrity of the ships (Marshall, 1989).

The primary role of the marine engineering officer aboard any vessel is to operate the propulsion plants and support the on board crew, the systems, the passengers and the vessel in general. For such an officer aboard a huge ocean type vessel which actually undergo trading between nations, the responsibilities are somewhat more complex and diversified. In addition to sound technical knowledge about the electrical and mechanical components present in the ship, the various equipment available for safety and security and method for their effective use and the trend analysis pattern of crucial ship components, such an officer has to have knowledge about the local maritime rules of the countries traded with, their particular culture and sets of rules and regulations that must be followed while travelling in international waters. He must have a thorough knowledge about various compliances in relation to safety, security and HSSE that must be followed at various ports and ensure that the vessel complies to the same. He must in addition be aware with the rules of international trade between the concerned countries and ensure all the procedures take place with compliance and due diligence. The role of the marine engineering officer is further to maintain the cordial relationship with the port authorities of the visiting country and ensure that the vessel adheres to the specific rules and regulations of the visiting port. He must further ensure the sound condition of the tradeable goods along with the on board crew and ensure they adhere to the compliance requirements. The marine engineering officer is also expected to be familiar with the guidelines of the IMO or the International Maritime Organization and ensure that the vessel satisfies the rules and regulations as per the guidelines while in international waters.

Innovative Steering System: The Azimuth Thruster and Propelling Rudder

While operating a feet of ships with people from various countries, cultures and ethnic and social backgrounds, the management of cultural difference becomes crucial in the efficient management of engineers within a ship. Engineers from various backgrounds and upbringings are often brought together in such an aggregation, which often leads to friction due to the difference in shared value and culture. Let us take the example of a German engineer who may be a strict disciplinarian than the US counterpart, and difference in punctuality may lead to friction and argument between the two. Management of a fleet of ships is often mostly about coordination and harmonious operations, and special care thus must be taken to ensure that these are not hampered by cultural differences of choice and expression. Special informal sessions of engagement and bonding should be regularly arranged to introduce familiarity and appreciation of an unknown culture. Again, a bond must be created between these engineers so that they can tolerate the slight differences and friction that may arise occasionally in course of the journey.

Overall, the lesson of management teaches us the power of friendship and informal bonding to smooth over the friction that arises in any team due to difference in culture and ethnic values. Each player brings his own set of strength and uniqueness that is also a function of the unique culture to which he or she belongs. The role of the efficient manager is to utilize these resources while ensuring that the entire system works as a seamless unit. This is where careful attention to the existing dynamics and timely steps to intervene in case of impending friction is necessary to manage cultural differences in a multi-faceted team (Nataatmadia & Dyson, 2005).

Shipping is a comparatively effective mode of conveyance compared to terrestrial and air when we contemplate the CO2 releases produced per mile when each ton of load is transported. However, the shipping vessel, as other modes of transport, is also coming under amplified inspection to lower its exhaust gas emission by the international authorities and under its remit the IMO is looking at endorsing measures to regulate these by refining ship efficiency through healthier management and application of best practice. The Shipping energy efficiency master plan provides a means to officially capture courses by which a ship-owner can try to improve the ecological efficiency aspects of their processes both aboard each of their ships as well as across the company.


The Shipping Energy Efficiency Master Plan is a real time document, containing energy enhancement measures acknowledged by the ship-owner that will be kept on-board each vessel. The file will be studied regularly to institute the significance and effect of each measure on ship and fleet processes. Each SEEMP will be ship-specific but should be connected to a wider corporate energy managing policy of the ship-owner.

The benefit to the company is in terms of the improved economy that is achieved through constant scrutiny and cost reduction. The processes that occur are continuously moderated and reviewed in order to find the way of least resistance or highest efficiency. This would greatly benefit the shipping company in terms of saved costs and efficient utilization of resources. To the environment in general, efficiency is equivalent to reduction in terms of emissions and subsequent environmental degradation. Thus adopting such a rigorous continuous monitoring technique to enhance efficiency and efficient utilization of resources not only improves the economy from the standpoint of the owning firm, but it further has a positive impact on the environment in general (Implementing a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) , 2012).

The marine engineer has a pivotal role to play in maintaining cost effectiveness for a particular vessel carrying a moderate to heavy cargo. This might be substantiated by the fact that the marine engineer is often the person with the most experience and knowledge of the working condition and performance level of the vessel. He is thus in the best position to analyze and quantify the performance of the vessel at each stage and identify the existing inefficiencies. Thus from hull redesign to engine power and emission, the person having the best understanding of the mechanics on board is often the marine engineer himself. This allows him to strategize and take a decision whether or not the existing levels of efficiency in a particular operation is satisfactory and whether or not any subsequent steps must be taken to improve the same. In his decision, therefore, lies the overall cost and energy efficiency of the ship and he is therefore of supreme importance for the same purpose. The shipping firm therefore would heavily depend on the ability and enthusiasm of the marine officer in actively reducing cost to achieve the desired level of cost efficiency in a vessel.

Ship Energy Efficiency measures: Status and Guidance. (2006). ABS.

Guidelines for Lay-Up of Ships. (2008). Bibby Ship Management & DehuTech.

Hull Coatings for Vessel Performance. (2008). FATHOM.

Implementing a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) . (2012). Lloyd's Register.

Borkowski, T., Kowalak, P., & Myskow, J. (2012). Vessel Main Propulsion Engine Performance Evaluation. Journal of KONES Powertrain and Transport.

Marshall, J. (1989). The Guinness Railway Book. Enfield: Guinness.

Nataatmadia, I., & Dyson, L. E. (2005). Managing the Modern Workforce:Cultural Diversity and Its Implications. Information Resources Management Association International Conference.

Ronalds, B. F. (2016). Sir Francis Ronalds: Father of the Electric Telegraph. London: Imperial College Press.

S, T., & A., S. K. (2013). Compressive Strength Index of Crimped Polypropylene Fibers in High Strength Cementitious Matrix. World Applied sciences journal, 698-702.

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