A liquefied natural gas carrier and a car carrier, under completion at leading South Korean yards, will be the first ships at sea to feature SmartSafe, the shipping industry’s first working automatic ‘plug and play’ Bilge Overboard Security System to tackle those intent on using ‘magic pipes’ to discharge oil overboard illegally. The UN Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection estimates that an avoidable 68% of pollution from ships is attributable to deliberate oil discharge.
SmartSafe is specifically designed to ensure that the bilge oily water separator cannot be bypassed. The PLC-based system uses Rivertrace in-house written software to monitor the separator system’s diverter valve and flow rate and cumulative flow through the discharge pipe, detecting any attempt to tamper. Available for newbuildings and for retrofit, SmartSafe is compatible with any type of separator and separately controls its own overboard diverter valve.
The system can be connected to a ship’s local area network for monitoring on the bridge, so that the navigation officer can intervene in controlling or stopping discharges. Tracked over the web via Purplefinder, SmartSafe is capable of remote monitoring and control. Shipowners can track the GPS position of their vessels at any time and ascertain whether a discharge is taking place. They can even stipulate that valves remain closed when a ship passes through a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area.
The system anticipates illegal discharge and shuts off the overboard discharge valve if necessary. Should anyone try to tamper with SmartSafe, or shut it down, a spring loaded valve is tripped, forcing the diverter to close. Tamper attempts also result in an alarm being tripped in the owner’s office. At the end of the discharge process, a batch record is printed containing all aspects of the discharge and any errors or inconsistencies that occurred during the process. A printout stretching back across two years of data can be attached to the manual oil record book for presentation to Port State Control inspectors.