Prevent Machinery Damage Claims

Sunderland Marine has long provided hull and machinery cover and we have amassed a huge amount of claims data. This data is valuable – if we can understand what is happening and why, we can help prevent claims in the future.

So, what is the most common type of claim? It might not be a surprise to learn that machinery damage topped the list. The majority of casualties concerned engine failure closely followed by gearboxes, hydraulics and stern gear damages.

The big question is how can we prevent these incidents? In many instances, the post-casualty reports suggest that early intervention and a greater understanding of the maintenance requirements would have prevented irretrievable damage and vessel down time.

Know your alarms

In many instances, an alarm that could have prevented catastrophic machinery damage did not function or simply wasn’t heard.

The first line of defence is to know your alarm and instrument panels are fully operational. Are the readings (such as pressures and temperatures) within the manufacturer’s operating specifications? Are you confident that low pressure and high temperature alarms work?

It is seen as good practice to request your local electrician routinely checks out the alarm systems and digital displays to prove that they are functional. This not only helps prevent equipment failures but also avoids unnecessary work and down time. We have had instances where engines were dismantled as a result of an inaccurate reading gauge or an electrical fault. Fitting calibrated analogue gauges to the engine room machinery to complement the manufacturer’s wheelhouse panel is seen as a practical and relatively inexpensive form of defence.

For when the alarm just simply isn’t loud enough, remote klaxons mounted on the deck and cabin can alert the operator to any abnormalities when the wheelhouse is unattended.

Record Keeping on the Up

A very welcome development is the increased use of logbooks and other means of recording preventative maintenance and routine repair work.

Why are these so important? If abnormal operational conditions and defects are not logged or acted upon, situations can develop and lead to failures which may have been a relatively simple fix if addressed at an early stage.

These failures do not just result in costly repairs and replacement parts. The bigger hit can be the down time. Manufacturers are holding less and less stock and the lead time of a replacement engine part or gearbox can be several weeks, if not months. Along with the removal and re-installation time, this is likely to have a huge impact on your business.

You can create a preventative maintenance system very easily – even if it is just a ‘diary’ type logbook. Simply follow the manufacturer’s guidance on oil/filter change periods and routine maintenance of items such as injectors, turbo chargers and water pumps and record it. Also, a well-managed logbook allows the operator to budget and factor in a specific timescale for identified items to be overhauled or replaced.

This simple addition of this logbook to your armoury can be invaluable and, combined with a working running-hour meter, can go a long way in saving time and money from carrying out unnecessary oil and filter changes.  How many of us have heard the old adage that the oil and filters must be changed every x amount of time “whether it needs it or not”? This is commendable but could turn out to be rather expensive. A quick glance at the equipment running-hours and a quick calculation of the logbook readings can take the guesswork out of oil/filter recharges, and in some cases increase the timescale between changes with the added bonus of a saving for the business.

It pays to prevent.

Alan Ure, Risk Management Surveyor at Sunderland Marine




Note to editors

Sunderland Marine is the leading international insurer of fishing vessels, aquaculture and angling lakes risks with over 8,000 policyholders worldwide. Established in 1882, the Standard and Poor’s A-rated company is based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK with regional offices in Australia and New Zealand. The company became part of North Group in 2014 following a merger with global marine mutual North P&I Club, which also has offices and subsidiaries in China (Hong Kong and Shanghai), Greece, Ireland, Japan, Singapore and USA. Sunderland Marine’s qualified and knowledgeable teams of underwriters, surveyors and claims staff ensure clients are provided with high levels of service and comprehensive insurance policies. The company is also at the forefront of promoting safety at sea and regularly contributes to and sponsors training programmes in the UK and overseas. For more information, please visit Sunderland Marine’s website at