Sea trails of ships are carried out usually when the ship is newly constructed and delivered by the shipyard, the ship management is transferred from one company to another, or major repairs have been performed in the dry dock.
Sea trials is an extremely crucial time when the “seaworthiness” of the ship is checked by finding out errors in the ship’s structure and machinery systems. If not properly planned and executed, sea trials can turn into serious disasters leading to horrific consequences.
Mentioned below are ten points that must be considered to ensure smooth and safe sea trials:
1.Only Experienced Personnel Should Handle Machinery Systems: If the sea trial is conducted for new ship/ purchased ship, the shipyard representative, designated captain or old crew should operate the ship’s machinery and systems, whereas the new crew must understand the operations, fine points and problems that can arise during sea trials.
2. Masters Must Take All Proper Permissions: The ship’s master should take all the necessary permissions and port clearance for sea trails of the ship. Port inspector will then certify the vessel’s sea worthy for sea trials. Port Pilot schedule and tugs are also booked for sea trials by the company. The ship’s crew should know and understand the whole plan thoroughly.
3. Inform The Surveyor: Master must ensure that the surveyor is informed about the sea trial schedule and he/she is present onboard during sea trials.
4. Workshop In-charges To Be Present On Ships: Chief engineer and master should ensure that the workshop in-charges are present onboard to accompany for various machinery inspection repairs in the dry dock.
5. Sufficient Manpower for Inspection: A number of teams should be made on both deck and engine sides for checking various system, overboard valves, water tight doors and access etc. when the ship is water borne during sea trials.
6. Prepare a List of Overhauled Machinery: All the overboard valves/ structures and system which are overhauled or opened in the dry dock must be listed and checked locally by ship’s staff for any water leakage. Photocopies of the list must be presented to the ship’s staff to ensure that no machinery part is missed.
7. Check Alarms And Trips Are Working: Ensure that alarms and trips of all the machinery systems, including main engine auxiliary engine, generator etc. are set back in working order
8. Ensure LSA and FFA are in Proper Working Condition: Before the ship goes out at sea, management officers must ensure that all LSA and FFA equipment including fire and general alarms are in good operating condition and the crew is ready to operate them during emergency.
9. Take Enough Evidence: Take as many photos or videos as possible while machinery and systems are being tested during sea trials. This would serve as an important reference for future use.
10. Make Proper Checks Before Clearing Any Machinery: Ship’s master and chief engineer must ensure that clearance for any system or machinery to be approved only when the operation of the same is satisfied by the workshop, yard or shore in charge. Also, the ship’s engine (main and auxiliary engines) must be run at least 80 % of its maximum load for some time and its parameters to be noted before declaring it “OK”.