Underwater Successful Ship Repair Case

In 23 years, I have never seen a repair job like IMS did for this ship.

Marine Surveyor

Our office received a call from Asia to verify a stern tube leakage on the chemical tanker MV that came in from Houston, Texas into Outer Anchorage  Colon. Our dive team went underwater to inspected the stern tube leakage and found one hundred thirty meters of 1 ¼ inch wire entangled in front of the propeller over the seal box with a loop around the propeller which caused the wire to be in rotation together with the propeller.

This action destroyed the rope guard, which was missing upon inspection. Our dive technicians also found the Seal Box damaged. The main flange holds the seal box to the ship, this flange had lost 30mm of its diameter, causing the 12 bolt holes of 24mm to be 80% closed. This caused the sealed box to be loose from the ship. Several of the bolts holding the intermediate flanges were broken, causing the oil leakage, because the intermediate flanges had separated on the upper half.




Upon finding the situation, our dive master, Jakup Fonsdal, went on board with images and videos of the findings to the Master and Chief Engineer. Upon looking over the pictures and videos, and after a brief assessment, they requested IMS Diving to remove the metal wire. Our IMS dive team proceeded to Colon outer anchorage and began removing the wire, using hydraulic grinders, to remove the cable until after sun down. The next day, the dive team went back to the MV to finished the wire removal and to make a final inspection of the damages caused by this metal wire.

Our dive master showed the images of the completed work and final inspection to the Master and Chief Engineer and they stated that the vessel would not be able to operate in this condition. IMS Diving, together with the Master and Engineer agreed to find a solution for the vessel to be on its way.

This same day, after departing the ship, our IMS technician went back to our main office to asses the situation with our CEO. Assessing the problem, they came up with the idea of bolting the seal box to the ship with two flanges, studs and knuts.   With this idea, if working, we would be able to send the ship on its journey without the 8 weeks waiting time for a new seal box and transferring the ships cargo to another vessel, and the ship having to go to dry dock for the installing of the new seal box. If the ship had to wait eight weeks, the cargo would perish and loose its commercial value witch was already being paid in full.

The ship sent their Technical Superintendent to Panama, to asses the problem together with the IMS Diving CEO and technicians

IMS Diving then gave a detailed proposal along with the proper technical drawings and costs to the Superintendent for approval for the temporary repair of the flanges. IMS Diving even contacted the seal box maker, WÄRTSILÄ to explain the repair, which they approved and gave us more technical information on the seal box.

After approval, the flanges took 4 days to produce working non stop. The rest of the materials were gathered and the dive team was set up and coordinated to begin the underwater repairs.

Having the flanges ready, the dive team went to the vessel to begin the underwater installation of these two flanges. The work started by removing and replacing the 12 broken bolts of holding the main flange to the ship, then installing 12 stainless steel studs that will fix the two flanges to the ship. Following we installed the first flange, that centers and holds the main flange, with double nuts. Following installing the second flange that fixes all the intermediate flanges that holds the seals, or in other word the seal-box, to the vessel.

This installation we secured by stick welding the nuts to the flanges and to the studs. This way the nuts or studs cannot become loose and the installation is fixed to the ship.



We were now ready for our first Sea trial. The vessel initiated the sea trail which was successful with no water ingress or oil leakage. By this trial the vessel was able to transit the canal and anchor at Balboa anchorage, where IMS Diving went back onboard for inspection and installation of a rope guard.

A second sea trial was done and the IMS Diving repair concluded to be a success! The MV  went on its way, very satisfied with IMS Diving Panama’s performance.