The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
Underwater rudder inspection and follow up repair steers owner clear of trouble
Belgium-based underwater repair and maintenance specialist Hydrex recently received a call on its 24/7 emergency number from the owner of a tanker that experienced steering troubles with its rudder. The vessel was performing cargo operations in Antwerp and needed a fast on-site solution that would allow it to sail on after commercial operations were complete without losing time and with a fully functioning rudder.
“Offering fast underwater solutions is what we do best, so we immediately mobilised a team to the vessel’s location to assist,” says the company.
To make an accurate assessment of the situation, Hydrex divers started with a thorough underwater inspection of the rudder. This allowed them to communicate the exact situation and the nature of the damage to the owner and the Hydrex technical department. During this survey the vessel could continue her cargo operations without any hindrance.
“The inspection revealed that the rudder’s flap was almost completely detached from the rudder,” Hydrex explains. “This caused serious troubles during steering. The top hinge had come loose completely. The weight of the flap had severely bent the pin that attached it to the rudder at the bottom hinge and was just barely keeping it from falling off. The edge of the rudder was also cracked and deformed next to the lower hinge.”
Because of this deformation, removal of the flap was not straightforward. “Many years of experience and technical expertise allowed our technical department to come up with a repair plan within a matter of hours,” says Hydrex. “This solution would allow the owner to continue his vessel on its schedule without any noticeable delay, so he gladly accepted.”
The company adds: “We have a large stock of equipment available in our fast response center for our repair teams at all times. They could therefore load all the needed gear onto one of our workboats immediately after the repair plan was approved and mobilize to the tanker early in the afternoon of the same day.”
After arriving next to the vessel, the diver/welders started the operation by securing the rudder flap with chains. Next they burned off the area of the flap that connected it to the bent pin. Once this was done, the divers left the water and the crew of the tanker slowly moved the rudder’s position until the flap disconnected from the rudder and came to rest on the chains.
The Becker flap was then lifted onto the Hydrex workboat and brought to the firm’s workshop. By doing this the vessel could immediately sail on to her next scheduled stop. The flap was later transported to the OEM to be repaired. It will be ready to be reinstalled when the tanker docks at a convenient time and location that fits the schedule of the owner.
“In less than 24 hours we were able to mobilise a team to the vessel, perform a detailed inspection to assess the situation, devise a fast underwater solution and carry out the repair,” Hydrex says.