17 years ago i flew to Singapore to take over a large product tanker at dry dock.
When i arrived there the agent told me that the tanker has gone back to sea , as the Singapore dry dock had failed her gas free certificate.
After she came back to port again, she docked straight. When i arrived on board , the ship was on the blocks , the gas free certificate issued by the dry dock ( a local gold medallist in safety record ) was displayed.
When i arrived in the Masters cabin I found all there including the ships Yank superintendent. The ship was owned and technically managed by a company at Park Avenue New York USA ( no names !)
The ship's last cargo was Gasoline , with very high MTBE content as per the quality certificate. And the reason why the ship failed the first gas free inspection was due to leaky cargo tank suction valve seat rings--all made of NBR.
There was extensive hot work to be done in all tanks.
Since the old Master was in a hurry to go home, i took over command fast.
I told the dry dock manager and the Yank Suptd, that i will NOT allow any hot work to be done in any of the cargo tanks , till I had personally passed all the tanks.
There was immediate opposition-- but then Master is Master. The buck stops on his table, NOT on the gas free chemist's .
All were terribly angry with me for being the unreasonable bad guy!
I went on deck and found heavy blowers with plastic chutes inserted into all cargo tanks. In all the tanks I found some transparent liquid at the sump, which the Chief Officer claimed was water. There was a lot of this liquid as the tanks did not have a sump, being single skinned.
So i asked him to get a sample by sending an AB down and scooping up from the sump into a sample bottle. The first bottle contained pure Gasoline. I did it for two more tanks-- these too contained Gasoline in the bottle.
So pretty soon i has a meeting with the Yard Managers , the Tech Suptd, the Marine Chemist etc etc .
The verdict was clear -- heads would roll.
All were very surprised that the Yard's Gas free certificate was bullshit.
WHEN EVER YOU TAKE A TANK READING WITH EXPLOSIMETER OR OXYGEN ANALYSER, OR TANKSCOPE , THE VENTILATION MUST BE STOPPED FOR AT LEAST 20 MINUTES, TO ALLOW VAPOR GROWTH.
If the ventilation runs, as the yard did, while taking readings-- you get looped in FRESH air.
To cut a long story short all work was cancelled for the day.
HUSH HUSH all connived to get the GasolIne drained by removing the bottom plugs of the single skinned tanks and draining it into drums -- all as thick as thieves, at night -- with No smoking regulations in force.
Initially there was NO wind and i did NOT allow the draining operations as the vapors are heavy. If there is an explosion the ship would be lifted off the blocks.
Afterwards by luck , fresh wind picked up as all did what they had to do.
Today when i look back-- i feel i should have got the ship floated off the dry dock blocks , and gone out again to sea.
HUSH HUSH deeds are not proper or standard.
Such deeds do NOT foster safety.
Safety does not recognize short cuts.
Safety is NOT about protecting personal backsides.
It took me many letters to several power houses before ISGOTT , finally revised the tank entry procedures -- " the ventilation must be put off for 15 minutes before taking gas readings using Tank scope or whatever.
1)NBR cannot handle MTBE ( Methyl Tert Burty Ether ). Only PTFE or Viton ( FPM ) seat rings can. No wonder the pumps could NOT suck--as the suctions were air bound.
2) A valve cannot be trusted . On chemical tankers we do NOT accept 2 or 3 valve segregations, like on oil tankers. We only accept a removable spool with 2 blanks-- or in short AIR GAP in between.
CAPT AJIT VADAKAYIL