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Bilge system legality
Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 8:39 AM
Joined: 13/02/2012
Posts: 8

Working on a new build at the minute and further investigation into the bilge system i have found that it is a stupid, idiotic design that is designed to reduce costs but also makes me question the legality of the whole system. Even though it is apparently lloyds approved. Normally a bilge system has a way to take suction from any bilge well on board and put this into a bilge tank. Right? The OWS then takes suction of this tank to put overboard (legally) or to pass to a shore connection. The system on this yacht uses two fire/"bilge" pumps to suck from most of bilge wells on board and can then either discharge strraight to overboard or through the firemain. Both highly illegal. Only 3 of the bilge wells on board (The ER bilges) can be sucked directly through the OWS to overboard or to the tank. So based on the drawings if a bilge well in the bow thruster space or steering gear fills up we have two options pump overboard without the OWS or leave it. This is illegal and i want to write to the IMO about this but since i kicked up such a fuss it will be known that it was me and i will lose my job. What you think?
Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 3:06 PM
First question do you when and what ocean region you can legally use an OWS? Second question is your yacht above 400grt? Third question is the tank a bilge tank or a sludge tank? Fith question does the OWS have it's own manifold that has bilge pick ups within the engine room? When you can answer these questions you may very well come to realize that an OWS can only be used when underway and making way, not in a special area and that few yachts have bilge tanks and people confuse the sludge tank with a bilge tank which is an entirely separate type of tank. Also you will realize the OWS can not be have a suction from the OWS because this is against class. The reason why the fire and bilge pumps can be arranged for bilge or fire pumping so there is system redundancy. Therefore it is poor marine practice to pump an oily bilge with the bilge fire pumps, as this would contaminate the fire hydrant system with fuel, oil and sludge, which has obvious consiquences when fighting a fire. The bilge spaces outside of the main engine should be clean and oil free, so maintain the systems and there is no reason to have an OWS pick up at these locations and you will find few vessels do. Bottom line is bilges are kept clean, few yachts have bilge tanks and the OWS is rarely used because of the rules associated with the operation of this device. So rather than make a stink do you job, learn the boat, work with the hard, learn as much as you can and realize bilges are supposed to be clean. To determine whether you have a sludge tank or bilge tank is very simple, just check to see if the fuel separator and drip trays are directly connected to the tank. If they are it is a sludge tank and not a bilge tank.
Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 4:01 PM
Joined: 13/02/2012
Posts: 8

Yes i know what the rules are regarding Marpol. Yes its above 400grt. Yes it has TWO bilge tanks. Yes the OWS has pick ups in the engine room but not from the steering gear. My question was nothing regarding when i can use an OWS. I know when, where and how to use an OWS. That was my point. Certain bilge wells including the steering gear can only be pumped through the fire/bilge pumps. So if thats oily its going throught the fire system. 'The bilge spaces outside of the main engine should be clean and oil free, so maintain the systems and there is no reason to have an OWS pick up at these locations' THis sentence sums up yacht engineering. Oh it shouldnt have oil in. THe fact remains it could have oil in and it should be able to go through the OWS at some point but it can't. Bilges can be dirty. Nobody (well not me) decides to have dirty bilges but they can get that way and marpol rules state as soon as it is in the bilge it is considered dirty. I know how to learn a system. If you wanted to have a go instead of answering the question you could've kept your mouth shut.
Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 8:52 PM
Joined: 02/06/2008
Posts: 342

Good grief, DMK ...


Anon was trying to tell you something, read for content. It really does sound like you lack the knowledge and experience with vessel systems to make the kind of judgements and statements that fill your post.


It is completely legal and normal practice to have "fire and bilge" pumps for the reason Anon wrote. Just because a bilge pump may be cross-connected doesn't mean you have to pump bilges into the fire main or can only pump bilges directly overboard.


"... the OWS is rarely used because of the rules associated with the operation of this device ..."


And precisely which rules are so restrictive that the OWS is rarely used? Please inform the readership since you seem to have more insight than Class or Flag in these matters.


Do you know the difference between a bilge water tank and a sludge tank? It really does sound like you need to sit down with a Class surveyor and the drawings for your boat. There appears to be a great deal of missing information in your posts.





Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 10:31 PM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1061

I'm having trouble figuring out where you think the system is wrong and illegal?

Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 11:01 PM
Joined: 09/10/2008
Posts: 134

If LR and flag have signed off on it then you are probably heading for a fall. It would be a good idea to have the o/b discharge valve locked to prevent "accidental" use - surveyors like this. Sounds like you are from a commercial background (me too incidentally) - best advice i can give you is: eyes and ears open and mouth shut. Do that for 2 years working for an experienced Chief then come back to forum... There is a lot to learn here and also you will be able to contribute, but only if you do that from a position of respect that you will have to earn from your peers. You will not get anything but fired if you do not earn the respect first - zero respect will be generated by coming to the industry with a big ticket and an ego. BTW I would be shocked if your Captain and Chief do not already know that you are posting this stuff - it is too small an industry for this to be anonymous. So get your head down, support your Chief and Captain and become an asset - right now you are simply a liability to be eliminated... Up to you which way you go!
Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 12:57 AM
Bilge/fire lines are for emergency bilge pumping. It is a system luxury to have separate lines from every bilge to a bilge tank/OWS aboard yachts. If it does end up the bilges are full of oil/water from these bilges a mobile wilden pump or equivalent to pump out these bilges to the bilge tank is the way I have done it before. I know this is a pain but if the bilge system has been passed then that's that. Oh and by the last post sounds like you have been busted.
Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 9:35 AM
In the real world a fire pump MUST be able to draw through the bilge manifold as well as the sea suction strainers otherwise you could possibly sink the boat or cause it to capsize when fighting a fire or doing boundry cooling. Drawing a bilge system is one of the first things you learn and is definately a question in the oral examinations. Having said that though, I must admit that things are a little dodgy in the "YACHTING" world with ship construction .
Mike Sanderson
Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 9:58 AM
Joined: 20/01/2011
Posts: 6

If the yacht is over 400GT and is LR class, then LR must issue an IOPP certificate. As this is a statutory document I would be surprised if the system was not in accordance with Marpol. Should you have issues you should contact your flag (not IMO) who will treat your query in confidence.