Band-Aids for ships?

APRIL 23, 2013 — Moms keep Band-Aids in the house and the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) keeps salvage patches aboard Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs). The NCA has recently renewed its service agreement with Miko Marine for the emergency provision of magnetic and fabric patches for damaged vessels. Under the new 2013 agreement, Oslo-based Miko Marine will provide 24-hour technical support for the use of its range of patches, which are now carried aboard all five NCA Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs).

Damaged trawler was refloated after application of Miko Marine patch

The new agreement ensures that patches are available for making emergency repairs to vessels with damage or hull integrity problems that may have been caused by collision or grounding or by defective valves and seals. The contract also includes an agreement for Miko Marine to provide emergency supervisory technical support in their use when and wherever required.

The NCA decision comes after several incidents where Miko expertise and products prevented the loss of vessels in Norwegian waters; notably the Puma, a nuclear fuel carrier that was at risk of sinking off the coast of Norway in December 2010.

The Puma experienced a leak in its engine room while sailing south along the coast of Norway following delivery of a cargo of spent nuclear fuel to Murmansk. When a valve burst on a pipe supplying sea water to the ship's sanitation system, the crew was unable to stop the flow of water into the engine room. The leak was, however, sealed by a Miko magnetic patch provided by the Norwegian Coastal Administration vessel KV Farm. It immediately stopped the in-flow of water and enabled the Puma to be escorted to Hammerfest for permanent repair.

Another major incident was narrowly avoided after two trawlers collided in the Arctic north of Norway. The Hundvåkøy was returning to port when it struck the Hordafor 4 and sustained major hull damage. The engine room flooded but the master successfully grounded his boat to prevent the total loss of the vessel and its cargo.

The NCA immediately sealed the large hole in the hull with a Miko patch. Both of the NCA vessels attending the incident were carrying a Miko Salvage Kit that included a six by two meter "hat shaped" fabric patch that could be used to cover protruding damage too irregular to be dealt with using a magnetic patch. By using this patch, virtually all of the boat's catch was saved and the engine room was pumped dry. This enabled the Hundvåkøy to be refloated and towed some 15 nm to the NATO quay at Sørreisa for more permanent repairs

The patch chosen for the repair was manufactured from a high strength fabric that combines polyester reinforced PVC with aramid. It is described as "hat-shaped" due to its design as a shallow bag with a brim that is held securely against the hull beneath flexible aluminum strips that are fixed by divers using an HD 200 underwater stapling tool. The bag-like capacity of the patch enables it to cover any irregular tearing of the hull while the brim ensures a strong and watertight seal.

Commenting on the renewal of the NCA agreement, Nicolai Michelsen, general manager of Miko Marine AS said; "We are very pleased to be able to supply the NCA with a product and a service with such obvious benefits. This is not a speculative gesture by the NCA but is one based on their hard experience that has repeatedly shown Miko magnetic and fabric patches to be capable of saving ships, livelihoods and the environment and we are proud to be able to work closely with them whenever the need arises."

Miko patches can be supplied individually to order or carried in packs that contain a variety of sizes. Salvage Kits and Tanker Kits each contain a range of patches that can provide temporary watertight repairs to hull damage caused by collision, corrosion or some other technical defect. They can also be used to seal damaged tanks to prevent oil escaping. The largest Miko fabric patch made to date measured 30 m x 15 m. Magnetic patches can also be used to seal thruster tunnels and sea chests so that work can be conducted inside without the expense required to put the vessel in dry dock.