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09.07.08 21:44
What future trends do the existing tankers with deadweight less than 5000 tons have?

There is a unique situation in Russian fleet by now: most of the tankers with deadweight less than 5000 tons (so called "small" tankers) have double bottom and double sides, but they don't satisfy Regulation 21 requirements of MARPOL 73/78 for transportation of crude oil and oil products with density more than 0.900 t/cub. m.
Soviet designers worked out concept of river-sea going tanker with "double" hull in the end of 50th years of last century. That's why almost all Soviet famous series of tankers were built with double bottom and double sides.
International requirements to the "double" hull appeared much later.
That's why double bottom height of most part of Russian tankers is less than required one (Regulation 19 MARPOL 73/78).
According to item 6.1 of Regulation 19 actual double bottom height must be more than minimum value, defined by formula h = B/15 ≥ 0.76 m.
E.g. for 550A/1577 prj. vessel of "Volgoneft" type actual double bottom height in CL is 0.80 m, MARPOL required value is h = B/15 = 16.5/15 = 1.10 m.
For 621 prj. vessel of "Lenaneft" type actual double bottom height in CL is 0.80 m, MARPOL required value is h = B/15 = 14.8/15 = 0.987 m.
Russian "small" tankers belong to the following projects (vessels were built at Russian and Bulgarian shipyards): 550, 550A, 558, 1577, 630 prjs. of "Volgoneft" type; P77, 621, 621.1, 621.2 prjs. of "Lenaneft" type; fuelers of 610, 588 prjs.; 1677M prj. of "Oleg Koshevoy" type; 1570 prj. and other.
There were no MARPOL tankers in the fleet supervised by RRR; only 2 vessel from 27 ones (7%) of RS IIISP class satisfied the international requirements; 19 vessel from 86 ones (22%) of RS IISP class satisfied the international requirements; 12 vessel from 41 ones (29%) of RS II class satisfied the international requirements; 16 vessel from 57 ones (28%) of RS IIISP class satisfied the international requirements.
Such situation is typical for whole world fleet, 151 "small" tankers among 3512 (4%) are with double hull, satisfying MARPOL 73/78.
According to Regulation 21 operation of the rest 3361 vessel for transportation of heavy oil, masout and bitumen is permitted only till delivery anniversary in 2008.
Such international requirements toughening is connected with EU position toward tanker "Prestige" breaking on 19.11.2002. As a result about 200 km of Spain Galicia and France coasts were polluted by masout.
There are several possible variants of "long-term" activities:
- to discard the old vessels and to build the new "MARPOL" tankers;
- to transport only the light oil products, i.e. cargoes with density of 0.900 ton/cub. m and less;
- to re-equip tankers into dry-cargo vessels;
- to mount double bottom and double sides without year of building changing (re-equipment);
- to mount double bottom and double sides with year of building changing (conversion);
Marine Engineering Bureau worked out the whole set of possible solutions:
- re-equipment of project of 550A/1577 prj. tankers of "Volgoneft" type with cargo zone replacement for the new one, designed in accordance with all the international requirements. This project was carried out at two tankers re-equipment for "Volgotanker" company ("Mekhanic Voronkov", "Grigoriy Bugrov") and is being carried out now at vessel "Volgoneft 228" re-equipment for "Ennisey" shipping company;
- re-equipment project of 630 prj. tankers by increasing double bottom height up to level, regulated by MARPOL that was carried out at tanker "Mekhanik Khachepuridze" of "Prime Shipping" company;
- re-equipment project of 621 and 621.1 prjs. tankers of "Lenaneft" type by increasing double bottom height up to level, regulated by MARPOL for Palmali group;
- re-equipment project 003RST06 of P77 prj. tankers by increasing their construction and equipment level up to one, that satisfies MARPOL requirements due to mounting early absent double bottom, increasing of cargo lifting capacity, increasing tonnage due to elimination of the ballast deep tank and trunk. Re-equipment project was carried out at tanker "Vasiliy Surikov" (OJSC "ERCS") and is being carried out at vessels "Lenaneft-2004" (OJSC "LORSC") and "Victor Astaf'ev" (OJSC "ERSC");
- "conversion" project of RST17 tanker "Victoriya" of P77 prj. with changing year of building.
Such solutions allow to increase hull life term of existing tankers for 10-15 years and to provide ecological safety level defined by international community.
However there is no possibility to carry out such works at tens Russian tankers at the same time. Even if they will find enough money to finance these projects, there won't be enough amount of shipbuilding and ship-repairing yards.
Most of this vessels, viz 558, 550, 1577, 550A, 621, 621.1, 630, 630.1, 630.2, 05074T, 1677M, 16773, 16776 and some other projects (total vessels' amount is of 255) are of double-screw type, with double hull that allow to prove their ecological safety for work through internal Russian waterways and in sea coastal Russian regions, even in spite of double bottom height that does not satisfy MARPOL 73/78 requirements.
Marine Engineering Bureau (MEB) and Russian River Register (RRR) designed special criteria of their ecological safety level estimation to provide life term extension for these vessels. These criteria are RRR requirements to the increased environmental safety level of the vessels – new symbols ECO 1, ECO 2 (analogue of Norwegian Veritas CLEAN) and ECO 3 (CLEAN DESIGN).
Appropriation of additional symbol in the class notation is based on carrying-out the requirements of International Maritime Organization, maritime administrations and international maritime industry toward ecological vessels' safety. At the same time some regulations of additional "ecological" requirements of classification societies are stronger than requirement of active international documents.
Requirements to the ECO 1 are specially designed for application to the existing vessels that are of double-screw type with double height though they do not satisfy all the formal requirements of MARPOL and contain in addition following items:
- requirements to the general longitudinal hull strength standard of existing vessels being operated and to the end of life term of newly built vessels, based on researches of vessels' breaking risks;
- requirements to the minimal thicknesses of hull members of existing vessels being operated responsible for outline "cargo, supplies, ballast - environment" based on researches of local damage dangers;
- requirements to damage stability of vessels' hulls based on ADN requirements, which determinate vessel's safety during grounding, during contacts with hydro-technical structure and other floating objects.
In addition to these technical measures activities of human factor control (researches of approaches to the creating of coast center for damage stability and residual structural strength calculation in the case of wreck or damage and approaches to designing of ballast sea changing vessels' Guidelines ) were considered in detail.
Probably, such criteria will be claimed in regions with most ecological fears such as Moscow city, St. Petersburg city , Rostov-on-Don city, Gulf of Finland, Azov Sea, Caspian Sea.
Damages or wrecks of vessels transporting dangerous goods in water areas of these cities will lead to the serious consequences and future legislative prohibitions for operation of usual vessel without additional ecological safety level.
RRR additional ecological safety levels (ECO1, ECO2, ECO3) are criteria that will provide rational operation of existing tankers and in the same time increased ecological safety standard of newly built vessels.
According to Regulation 27.7 of MARPOL Maritime Administration is allowed to use such criteria for life term increasing for tankers transporting heavy oil and oil products on conditions that these vessels carry out voyages only in the jurisdiction region of this Administration. River-sea going vessels that carry out the voyages to the port of Kronshtadt and port of Caucasus, and also fuelers being operated in Russian territorial waters satisfy these requirements.