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Anchored attention

A fresh increase in the number of incidents related to mooring equipment was observed by the PSA towards the end of 2008, underlining the continued need for improvement in this area.

Anchoring gear is safety critical, and its failure can cause serious personal injury and substantial damage to installations, pipelines, wells and seabed facilities. That in turn could pose a threat of pollution and shut-downs.

Because of the large number of incidents involving such systems, the PSA paid extra attention to the problems in 2005 – and that focus has since been maintained. Measures adopted include technical seminars, audits in cooperation with the Norwegian Maritime Directorate and dialogue with the classification societies.

The regulations governing mooring equipment have been revised on the basis of the lessons learned, and the PSA has also reported on the Norwegian experience internationally. In early 2007, the agency issued a circular to the industry which spelt out and amplified the regulatory requirements relating to mooring gear.

This document provided guidance on the scope of company inspection for components more than 20 years old, and led to a substantial replacement of anchor chains in 2008.

The PSA letter boosted the attention paid to maintenance, expertise and training with mooring equipment. Anchor positioning and test tensioning of chains is also under better control. In addition, the PSA sees that anchor systems are increasingly being put in place before the relevant installation arrives on location.

This approach reduces dependence on weather conditions at the time of arrival, and improves working conditions for anchorhandling vessels.

On the basis of the PSA’s initiative and the increase in mooring-related incidents, a specific target of halving the latter has been defined by the industry for 2009.

The PSA will monitor the way the companies are working to meet this target. The Norwegian Shipowners Association also has its own mooring project, which will contribute to improvement efforts.