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'Lessons Learned' Strategies & Ideas for the Marine Industry

Damage Due To Erroneous Docking Plans

Symptomatic of a Larger Problem

Erroneous docking plans lead to costly damage more often than most professionals expect. This is the result of surveys conducted at Fisher Maritime’s Contract Management training programs. The docking plans were not always erroneous; but they weren’t updated when modifications were undertaken at previous shipyard periods.

The fact that the drawing no longer matches the ship is not limited to docking plans, but applies to many of the other as-built (or as-fitted) drawings as well. When a ship owner is having minor modifications made to the ship, it always seems to be too costly to have drawings modified by the shipyard. The ship-owning organization will get the drawings updated later, it is usually planned and believed. But the updates never get done, of course, due to higher-priority work for the appropriate staff that could otherwise accomplish the drawing updates.

A ship begins to depart from the once-accurate as-built drawings with every minor as well as major modification made during the ship’s lifetime. The potential benefits of the drawings for all future maintenance, repair and modification are lost to the owner. Any such work will then cost a lot more because the contractor that would otherwise rely on such accurate drawings will either:

  1. rely on inaccurate drawings and thereby incur extra re-work costs to correct the work that was erroneously accomplished because of the errors in the drawings, or
  2. have to develop its new work by onsite reverse engineering to know what is already there in order to proceed with the new work, with such reverse engineering being a source of delay and extra costs.

Moreover, emergency repairs will certainly take longer when the drawings cannot be relied upon. For ship repairs and maintenance, the recommended means of dealing with drawing issues is to ensure that the specifications for work items that will physically modify the ship include a requirement that the shipyard performing the modifications also update the relevant drawings; otherwise the gap between drawings and the ship will continue to grow.

If the drawing modification costs are not included in the workscope, then it becomes the owner’s obligation to get the drawings modified at a later time to ensure that the drawings continue to match the ship. But since many owners’ organizations do not follow-through with the drawing modifications after the ship leaves the yard, the gap between drawings and the ship is essentially guaranteed to grow. This is not a good way to manage the ship for future repairs and maintenance because, in addition to  causing damage, it will cost several times as much later to make up for a lack of accurate as-built drawings than it would to keep them up to date in the first place.

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