Staying stable

The benefits of regular stabilizer maintenance

Making sure your stabilizers are kept in top condition ensures reliability and smooth sailing at sea. Operators are now recognizing the many advantages of a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to servicing stabilizers, and how relying on your OEM can be of great benefit.

Maintenance is vital for ship health and ensures a vessel performs in the most efficient way possible. Many operators are already adopting a more preventive approach to maintenance, scheduling regular servicing in order to prevent unexpected equipment failures. However, fin stabilizers are often neglected in this process and repaired only when absolutely necessary. Experience shows that this attitude can have negative effects in the future.

Preventative maintenance vs low-level upkeep

Unlike some components, stabilizers are not required by classification societies to undergo regular inspection. A ship can sail for years without its stabilizers being serviced and this will not affect class approval. For this reason, stabilizer maintenance is often left until an overhaul is carried out on the entire vessel or major damage occurs. However, this can escalate costs in the long term.

Due to constant contact with water, the stabilizer’s rubber seals can quickly degrade if not properly maintained or regularly replaced; to disastrous effect. Either water enters the hydraulic system leading to corrosion and complicated faults, or lubricant leaks outside the vessel leading to oil pollution and fines. Regular upkeep of the rubber seals and mechanical moving parts of a stabilizer drives down the risk of expensive, unforeseen failures.

It pays to be safe and stable

A stable cruise ship or ferry is crucial to the comfort of its passengers. A ship with too much roll could cause seasickness and a decrease in spending on board such as in the ship’s bars, restaurants, and casinos. This could lead to an overall decrease in customer satisfaction and discourage customers from using the same cruise line again. More seriously, a lack of stability can also threaten safety. If instability arises during voyage due to stabilizer failure and causes injury to a passenger, the ship operator will find it difficult to disprove liability. Regular maintenance intervals ensure reliable stabilizer performance and maximum safety.

Who can provide you with maintenance?

A fin stabilizer’s mechanical parts are intricate and its electrical control systems tricky to maintain. A gray market supplier can possibly provide repairs or replacements, but an OEM is able to offer a much more comprehensive service, with design knowledge and additional benefits. When a ship enters dry dock, an inspection can reveal some maintenance requirements, but it takes an expert eye to spot potential problems and provide effective solutions. The supplier has the original spare parts, specific lubricants, and the vast experience to offer retrofits or conversions for upgrades such as the Dynamic Stabilizer Cover. In this way, ship operators can avoid breakdowns and ensure maximum performance from their vessel for years to come.

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