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Drydocking and Major Ship Repairs

Dry-docking of a ship is a routine activity; however, it is an activity that is considered a major project where large expenses for repairs and offhire are incurred over a shortest possible period. It forms a critical part of ships overall maintenance policy affecting safety, and requires detailed planning, preparation and stringent project cost control by competent persons.

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Conduct of periodic dry-docking for cargo ships must be done in a cost-effective manner to fulfil requirements of Owners, Classification societies and to ensure a safe, reliable and efficient vessel operation. The Master and Shipboard Management Team are responsible for:
  1. The Safety of the crew, passengers, supernumeraries, cargo and the vessel. N.B. under certain circumstances passengers & cargo may be on board.
  2. The implementation of statutory regulations.

  3. The implementation of the Company’s Quality Policy & Safety and Environmental Policy.
  4. Adhering to the local repairers’ safety requirements/regulations.
  5. Advising all members of the crew, and passengers, of the necessary safety requirements by posting notices, instructions with regard to the use of safety equipment, and holding meetings.
  6. Ensuring that a “Fire Control Plan” is posted outside the deckhouse in accordance with SOLAS Chapter II.
  7. Provision of information to the repair facility representative in accordance with the Company’s Hot Work Procedure.
  8. The signing of gas free certificates for enclosed spaces as passed by the Chief Officer.
  9. The Authorisation of Hotwork within the confines of the repair facility or repair berth in accordance with company regulations
  10. The stability of the vessel whilst afloat or in the dry-dock or floating dock
  11. Organising emergency procedures and contact details and informing his crew, supernumeraries and passengers about these.
  12. Safe application of testing procedures – e.g. X-Ray of welding seams.
  13. The security of the ship.
  14. Ensuring the ship is appropriately manned during the repair period.

Planning & Pre-Award Phase

Pre-planning for the next dry-docking starts on the first day after leaving the yard. Relevant items not completed during the repair period are transferred to the new Defect List along with new items as arising. The detailed Defect Report must be prepared according to best industry practice including reference to enclosed drawing, sketch or photograph, and described as well as possible giving number, size, specs, dimension, material, colour and access/location.

It is the Shipboard Management Team’s (SMT) responsibility to provide this information by completing and forwarding the Defect Report forms to the office. If necessary, the responsible superintendent shall visit the vessel well in advance of the intended dry-docking / major repairs for verification of all repair works and clarify any additional work that has emerged in order to finalise the specification also take into account cost benefit analysis of repair or replacement as applicable during this process. The quality of the Defect Report will reflect on the ability of the SMT and the Company to the Owners, therefore all efforts must be made to produce a professional document. As much information as possible should be provided on the Defect Report item, such as: A copy of the specification must be sent to the Ship, where the Master is to provide a copy to Chief Engineer and other members of the SMT members as necessary. The Master and Chief Engineer shall ensure that all required supplies, service engineers, Class, Flag and insurance surveyors, paint supplies, sub-contractors and agents for the dry-docking are requisitioned via the PM / TC, and shall keep them fully updated on the vessels schedule. The Master and Owners must be kept fully informed of the supply arrangements by the office.

The Master shall detail any cleaning, gas freeing, slop disposal or other preparatory works to the office well in advance of the repair or dry-docking dates and discuss the arrangements and schedules in detail with the office, ensuring the best use of resources and time. The cleaning plan submitted to the office should include as a minimum: The Master shall report the progress of the cleaning works and ETA readiness for the repair port on a regular basis to the superintendent and Owners. The Master shall endeavour to attend any repair items on the defect list that can be possible to repair safely and within the ship’s capability whilst in service and report the progress to the office periodically.

In the interests of time/cost economy, sea-going maintenance (SGM) teams are employed by the Company in certain circumstances in order to undertake work either before, during, or after the scheduled dry-docking, with Owners permission. As a rule, repair items which can be possibly repaired in service are not to be included in the dry-dock specification – however exceptions are possible. Master is to ask superintendent for a SGM team if he considers them useful, specifying the number and type of workers needed.

Dry-docking Progress

After the repairer has been appointed, the superintendent shall notify the Master of the following:- No hotwork or risk-related works by Crew or Owners employed SGM or Sub contractors shall be permitted without a specific yard written approval during the repair period, and all company rules will apply. On vessel’s arrival, superintendent is to arrange a Safety Meeting with the Repair Facility’s Safety Officer and vessel’s Senior Officers. The meeting is to follow a minuted agenda which includes:
  1. The repairers’ safety regulations and requirements
  2. The repairer’s procedures for enclosed space entry/hot work
  3. Procedures if ship’s staff/sub-contractors to undertake hot work.
  4. Communications, contacts in the event of an emergency.
  5. A Schedule for regular safety meetings throughout the repair period. The repairer is to be provided with the following information:
  6. The vessel’s tank plan, including the last cargo and the disposition of all fuel and lubricating bunkers, (these tanks to be clearly marked with demarcation lines.)
  7. Any envisaged transfer of oil.
  8. The disposition, quantities and characteristics of all dangerous goods, chemicals, petroleum, combustible materials, flammable gases and paint stores etc.
  9. The details of the ships fire-fighting plan and equipment and its status.
  10. Provision with up-to-date and concise details of the envisaged repairs involving Hotwork.
  11. Any subsequent deballasting details.
  12. Notification of areas where Hotwork is to be excluded i.e. use of ring fencing etc.

Daily Progress & Safety Meetings

For each day, during the repair period, the repair facility will make the necessary arrangements for a meeting between the Repair Facility’s Representatives, the Owner’s Representative and the ship’s staff. The agenda of the meeting is to include but not be limited to:
  1. Progress of the work list items.
  2. Items of work to be carried out on that day.
  3. Modifications to the work specification.
  4. Review of Safety & Environmental Protection requirements.
  5. The time of this meeting will be as agreed by the Owner’s Representative.

Flood Up Procedures

Immediately prior to flooding up, the Master, Chief Officer, Chief Engineer and superintendent together with the Dock Master, Paint Manufacturer’s inspector and Ship Repair manager will carry out a final dry-dock inspection to ensure that all dock work has been completed and the vessel is in a fit condition to float. The Chief Engineer is to confirm to the superintendent that all shipside sea valves and associated pipe work have been closed up. The Chief Officer is to confirm with the Dock Master and report to the superintendent that all non-essential connections have been removed and that the vessel is correctly moored in order to hold its position once afloat.

The SMT are to confer with the superintendent, Dock Master and Ship Repair Manager to confirm that adequate personnel are standing by to check ships spaces for ingress of water. The order to commence will be given to the Master.

During flooding up, the flooding is to be suspended one foot before the vessel leaves the blocks and all sea valves are to be fully opened and closed to the satisfaction of the Chief Engineer and superintendent. The Second Engineer is responsible for the co-ordination of the transfer of electrical power from shore to ship supply when flooding level is sufficient and generator sea water cooling systems have been proved tight.

During flooding an effective communication system is to be maintained to ensure that in the event of any evidence of lack of stability or untoward ingress of water being detected, the flooding operation may be halted without delay. On completion of flooding, the SMT, superintendent and Ship Repair Manager will confer. The order to move out of the dock will be given by the Master.


Upon completion of the repair works the vessel is to sail from the yard in a safe condition as soon as possible. It is essential however, that adequate function tests and inspections are carried out under the supervision of superintendent of all safety systems and systems that had been disturbed during the repair period.

A Critical Operations Checklist must be compiled in order to ensure that all critical equipment, such as key navigational, propulsion, steering, cargo, ballast, fire and gas detection systems are tested. Also to be included is the replacement of bottom plugs, anodes, sea chest valves correctly set and ensuring echo sounder and Doppler transducers are cleared and written confirmation that all personnel are adequately rested before departure.

Final cleaning of machinery spaces, accommodation and other areas where repairs have been carried out is to be completed as soon as possible after departure. Systems are to be flushed as applicable. The superintendent, in consultation with the Master and the office, will evaluate the need for his further attendance aboard during the ensuing passage(s) taking account it may be advantageous for him to remain at the shipyard to negotiate the account with the contractor(s). If required, superintendent to join the vessel for the first voyage and/or until the first cargo has been lifted.

The Work Done Report of the contractor must be checked by the superintendent with the assistance of the Shipboard Management Team and appropriate comments made regarding the quality and effectiveness of the works.

The superintendent shall ensure to obtain from the contractor all calibrations, drawings and calculations relating to the work carried out and return all ship’s property (special tools etc) to the ship before departure.

The quality of the work performed, seaworthiness and safety is finally verified by the Classification Society /Flag state surveyor who will issue appropriate certificates. It is the Master’s responsibility to ensure that he has all the correct certificates and endorsements on board prior to sailing. Copies of all new certificates or endorsements must be sent to the office The Master is to send a daily performance messages to the office for the first 15 sailing days after a dry-docking or major repairs. This message must include the condition of the stern tube and details of any leakage thereof if applicable.

Damage Repairs

When damages occur, they shall be repaired in order to re-establish the status to the damage. It is the responsibility of the SMT to implement the Repair Procedure. Defects and damages are generally notified by the SMT to their Regional Office using the Defect Report by email, by telephone or by fax/telex. In the case of serious damage, that which could compromise the vessels seaworthiness or is likely to incur delays and offhire, advice should be made by telephone to the office or to the advised out of hours contact numbers as appropriate. Should the safety of the ship or the efficiency or completeness of its life-saving appliances or other equipment be affected, SOLAS, Chapter 1,) shall apply The following information should be provided:
  1. As much detail of the nature and extent of the damage as possible.
  2. Advice as to the extent to which ship’s staff can undertake corrective action without compromising safety, and the estimated time to carry out the proposed work.
  3. The criticality and urgency of the matter.
  4. If outside contractor’s assistance is required.
  5. What spare parts, equipment or materials are required.
  6. If the damage is likely to result in an insurance claim.
  7. The involvement of any third party
  8. Details of any surveyor requested to attend.
The Master has the overriding authority to immediately call in a local repairer and classification surveyor according to the criticality of the situation. The Master shall place every facility at the disposal of the Classification Surveyor for expediting their survey and thus reflect the favourable standing of the ship’s assistance and co-operation in the surveyor’s estimation.

In the circumstance of a survey being carried out by an Underwriter’s Surveyor (which will usually be with a Company Representative in attendance), the Master shall provide the Surveyor with Log extracts and Statements of Fact only. Minor repairs are planned and specified by the SMT, and are executed after clearance by the superintendent at the times and places found most suitable. Major repairs requiring considerable outside repairs assistance shall be planned in co-operation with the superintendent in order to optimise time and resource and thus minimise off hire time.

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