Giro Engineering, located in Southampton, UK have stressed the urgent need, under the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) 1974, to implement suitable sheathing arrangements for high pressure fuel pipes.Since 1 July 1998, SOLAS Regulation II-2/15/2.9 has applied to all marine diesel engines on all ships and requires all external high pressure fuel delivery lines connecting HP fuel pumps with the engine's fuel injectors, to be protected with a jacketed piping system capable of containing fuel from a high pressure line failure, and providing an alarm.
Failure to comply with SOLAS Regulations can result in immediate detention of a vessel.
The SOLAS Regulations specify a jacketed, or sheathed pipe, which incorporates an outer pipe within which the high-pressure fuel pipe is located to form a permanent assembly. The jacketed piping system shall include a means to collect leakages and arrangements shall be provided for warning to be given of a fuel line failure.
Statistics gathered over a number of years, indicate that most engine room fires are caused by fuel leaks, and it is obvious that the IMO has responded most positively to reports from marine administrations, P&I Clubs and classification societies who have witnessed the serious risks posed by leaking fuel systems. Indeed, with several high profile incidents last year accredited to fuel-induced fires in the ship's engine rooms, class surveyors and marine safety inspectors are likely to be paying increased attention to high pressure fuel pipe installations.
It is noteworthy that diesel engine manufacturers have already taken note of the new Regulations and are incorporating sheathed fuel pipes into their production of new engines and OEM retrofit pipe kits.
Early detection of a fuel leak can prevent a serious accident developing. The Giro system recognizes the importance of this facility by fitting a float switch in the alarm tank, thereby automatically providing remote alarm indication of the leak, either on a stand-alone alarm panel or integrated into the vessel's monitoring system. Local indicators can also provide instant visual identification of the damaged pipe. Vibration induced fatigue in fuel pipes can be a major source of HP pipe failure.