Bulletin No.: 04/1998

Date (Y-M-D): 1998-03-03

Subject: Portable Pumps in the Marine Environment

The purpose of this bulletin is to make mariners aware of the dangers involved in using equipment which is not designed nor intended for use in a marine environment.

An incident took place on board a Canadian registered fishing vessel in which the vessel was unable to cope with an inflow of seawater. Using a gasoline powered portable pump, which was carried in addition to the vessels required pumps, the crew attempted to stem the inflow of seawater. During the initial attempts of trying to start the pump, the "pull start cord" jammed. When the pump was finally started, it was found that the pump failed to pump the seawater.

After an investigation, it was found that the type of pump used was not appropriate for the marine environment. The pump casing was constructed of aluminum and the impeller was constructed of steel. The combination of these two dissimilar metals in the corrosive environment of seawater caused accelerated corrosion due to galvanic action between the two metals and thereby rendered the pump non-operational. It should be noted that the manufacturer of the pump had included a caution in the owner's manual which stated "never pump sea water".

In view of this incident and the result of the investigation, all vessel operators/owners and onboard personnel should be aware of the following:

  1. Equipment which is superfluous to that required by regulations must be designed to operate properly in a marine environment.
  2. As the owner's manual in this case had warned that the equipment was not to be used to pump seawater, it is important that owner's manuals be read and understood thoroughly.
  3. All equipment fitted on a vessel, fixed or portable, must be maintained in good working condition.

Keywords:                                  Questions concerning this bulletin should be addressed to:

1. Portable Pump
2. Corrosion
3. Dissimilar Metals
James E. Lynch
(613) 998-0650
Transport Canada
Marine Safety
Tower C, Place de Ville
11th Floor, 330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

To add or change your address, contact us at: marinesafety@tc.gc.ca

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