Ian Nash, business manager of UK-based SPS Technology, says the industry needs to look at riding squads to prevent the need for dry docking as it starts to transition the cruise fleet from lay-up to a resumption in sailings.

‘Once restrictions have been eased, more and more shipyards are going to fill up, triggering a real impetus for owners and class societies to work together and consider common sense approaches to getting vessels surveyed’, says Nash.

‘The riding squads, such as those at SPS Technology, will carry out repairs whilst the ship is at sea.

‘By choosing this solution the class society can be satisfied that the repair is being carried out, while the owner/operator benefits from the cost savings of having the ship at sea and not in dry dock’.

SPS Technology

SPS Technology’s ‘no hot work’ solution for permanent class approved structural steel lasts the lifetime of a ship, according to Nash, and involves bonding new plates to existing steel. The technology was used for two decks totaling 130sq mtr on board Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and fitted by a riding squad, as the ship made a transatlantic round trip.

Five-year surveys

Nash goes on to say that ‘class societies have largely been forced to postpone carrying out a survey on non-critical items for 90 days’, owing partly to the challenges of surveyors being able to access ships safely amid travel restrictions, and the need to protect staff and crew on board from COVID-19.

Of five-year surveys, Nash adds, ‘vessel owners must arrange extensions with their class societies to get ships in dry dock either when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, or when shipyards are open again’.