Guidelines to the Chief Engineer

The importance of ensuring that the ship's engines are operating with high quality lubricating oil at all times is obvious for any engineer on board. This is emphasised in the Norwegian Marine Insurance Plan. The insurance conditions offer an all-risk coverage with specific exceptions, one of them being running the engines with contaminated lubricating oil. 

Damage to machinery resulting from contamination of lubricating oil, cooling and feed water is not recoverable under the insurance policies of the vessel, unless the damage could not have been avoided by proper measures.

Section 12-5 (f) of the Plan of 1996 reads as follows: 

"The insurers is not liable for:
(f) loss due to lubricating oil, cooling water or feed water becoming contaminated, unless proper measures were taken as soon as possible after the assured, the Master or the Chief Engineer became, or must be deemed to have become, aware of the contamination, and in any event not later than three months after one of them should have become aware of the contamination."

In order to ensure the safe operation of the vessel and to protect Owner’s interests, we urge the Chief Engineer to: 

  • Carry out proper measures immediately upon discovery of such contamination and log them for documentation/verification. Corrective action is vital in relation to the words "must be deemed to have been aware of" in section 12-5 (f). 
  • Check and monitor the quality of the lubricating oil and feed water. Discuss the findings with the analysing company as considered necessary to understand the impact of the condition of the lube oil / feed water as given from the analysis.
  • Establish and remove the source of the contamination - or take steps to improve the quality of the lubricating oil or feed water. 

Note that section 12-5 (f) applies to all machinery including:

    • main engine
    • auxiliary engine
    • reduction gear
    • hydraulic equipment
    • boilers
    • thermal heating plants
    • refrigerating machinery and other machinery that may sustain damages as a result of such contamination

Blocking of the cooling water compartments or intake by sand, mud or salt is treated as equal to contamination due to mixture of such materials caused by internal or external leakages. 

The three-month period is an absolute deadline, not an excuse to postpone any measures or steps that can be taken immediately. A cleaning operation is only "proper" if it is done thoroughly with full access to the engine or component. Tanks, crank cases and sumps, as well as refrigeration chambers and the water side of steam producers, must be drained and cleaned, and pipes must be examined and/or flushed as necessary.

Lube oil purifiers are to be kept in good working condition with correct operational parameters in order to provide maximum performance. Any filters are to be operated, checked and cleaned according to makers’ instructions and at sufficient intervals for them to perform optimally. 
Inform and consult the Owners/Manager for their advice as early as possible in order to ensure that proper measures are taken.