Bulletin No.: 04/2000

Date (Y-M-D): 2000-04-17

Subject: Flooding Detection on Fishing Vessels

Further to the report of the TSB accident investigation in the sinking of a fishing vessel, one of the recommendations (M-94-06) proposed that TC regulate the mandatory fitting of high water level alarms in all compartments including fish holds, on large fishing vessels.

Ships are subdivided in a number of watertight compartments that are intended to prevent the spread of floodwaters in the vessel itself. Uncontrolled and undetected floodwater in any given compartment may not in and of itself endanger the survival of the vessel but in another one it could. It is therefore important to monitor quantities of water that may accumulate in any compartment especially in those that are intended to be dry.

The need for water detectors in the fish holds is more difficult to envisage unless they are to be activated only when the vessel is traveling light/empty. The physical protection of the detectors is a concern and the potential for generating repeated false alarms if not deactivated before loading ice and fish, may offset any gains this safety measure was intended to provide.

It is clear that the loss of a vessel may result from a lack of detection of water in compartments where there should be little or no water. Hence Marine Safety strongly recommends that water detectors (such as float switches, probes etc.) be fitted in all "dry" compartments located below the weather deck which are not subject to frequent visits, other than fish holds. Compartments that are supposed to be "dry" are spaces such as steering gear, lazarette, stores, cofferdams and shaft tunnels. Dry compartments may have some small amount of bilge water in them and a maximum quantity of water is to be predetermined before installing the detectors. Where floats and probes are used they should be used in pairs properly separated and fitted with a means to verify the continuity of the circuits.

Marine Safety strongly recommends that monitoring rounds on every watch be added immediately to standing orders, to verify water levels and take ullages. This is proposed as an interim measure until the installation of water detectors is completed for dry compartments. The results of such monitoring rounds should be logged for future reference in order to bring to light the deterioration of any given flooding condition.

Incidents of downflooding resulting in the near sinking or direct loss of vessels if any, will be tracked attentively in the coming years to establish trends if at all possible. Marine Safety will also monitor compliance with this Bulletin during annual inspections and hence the need to introduce a regulatory instrument may be re-assess in the future.

Keywords:                                  Questions concerning this bulletin should be addressed to:

1. Water level alarm   
2. Fishing vessel downflooding   
3. Watches on fishing vessels
G.R. Gareau
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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