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Valves tend to be forgotten when discussing key technical equipment on tankers, but a failed cargo or fuel valve can ruin operations, especially if there is no replacement on board.

A valve hit the headlines recently when it failed on the world’s first deep-sea hydrogen carrier. Reuters news agency reported that a malfunction on Suiso Frontier was due to a gas combustion unit valve being damaged as it was the wrong specification for the control system’s power supply.

This is one of the reasons global marine equipment supplier W&O is working closely with a large tanker operator, to ensure the correct specifications and availability of valves and valve parts on its vessels and at key locations worldwide.

As managing director at W&O Europe, Kristof Adam, explained, the project started with an audit of the valves and spares, with the results catalogued into a database. This gave the participants an idea of the scale of the issue.

The value in the project lies in revealing the unknowns. In the many years of a tanker’s working life, the initial specifications of valves may be lost, or those original valves may no longer be fit for purpose.

The valves may have been replaced with an incorrect spec, if direct replacements were not available.

W&O uses its database of available valves to specify correct replacement parts. The supply chain is mapped to provide the right valves for a dry docking and to ensure spares are available onboard or at port.

This model has been developed for a large tanker company, but the older ‘fire-fighting’ approach is also available. On the day Tanker Shipping & Trade interviewed Mr Adam, W&O was shipping a large valve from Europe to Singapore by air.

“Not only is this expensive,” said Mr Adam, “it could have been avoided with a little planning.”

W&O has a global footprint allowing the company to provide any type of valve to customers anywhere in the world, in addition to technical support.


This article was originally published by Riveria Maritime Media in February 2023. 

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