Easy emergency access to oil tanks
These days, when a ship is in trouble, there is immediate attention focused upon to the risk of any oil pollution. Any report of a grounding or collision, even a breakdown which may lead to a vessel being disabled for any length of time, will cite the presence or absence of pollution, even (regrettably) before there is any statement about the health of those aboard. It is the way of the modern world, an expression of environmental and social priorities.
How easy is it to access oil tanks aboard a ship which is damaged and may carry with it the risk of pollution? It is important for salvors, whose priority will be to offload all pollutants from a ship as quickly as possible. Sometimes, in the case of a ship which wholly or partly submerged it will be very difficult indeed, involving the salvors in drilling hot taps through shell plates to get at the tanks, or hazardous diving operations.
Detailed plans of the ship may be available, but access to the tanks of a wreck possibly lying on its side or inverted may be both difficult and dangerous. And leaving the oil in the tanks, even at depth, may not be an option as it might have been in the past. Governments of coastal states will insist on wrecks being emptied of pollutants, whatever the cost to the insurers.
Associated with the MPSA, the French JLMD Ecologic Group has developed what it describes its Fast Oil Recovery system, which can be applied to both newbuildings and existing ships.
Story courtesy of BIMCO.