Cargo ships are the backbone of global trade and commerce, transporting goods and merchandise across the world’s oceans. As with any vessel subjected to the harsh conditions of the sea, corrosion and rust are a constant concern for ship owners and operators. Therefore, it is not surprising that many people wonder?
The reality is that rust is an ever-present and ongoing issue for cargo ships. Exposure to seawater, salt, and air causes steel to corrode, leading to rust formation. The extent of rusting for cargo vessels varies depending on a wide range of factors such as the age of the vessel, the quality of steel used during construction, the type of cargo carried, and the maintenance practices of the ship’s owner.
While modern marine-grade steel is more resistant to rust and corrosion, even with the best preventative measures, it can only delay the onset of rust. The vast majority of ships are made from steel, and it is impossible to prevent rust from forming altogether. It is a matter of when, not if, the rust will appear.
The frequency of rusting and corrosion is not uniform throughout the vessel, with some areas of the ship more prone to rust than others. The areas that are most susceptible to corrosion include the waterline, the hull, and the ballast tank.
In addition to being unsightly, rust on a cargo ship can also have severe safety implications. Thinning and perforation of metal structures can cause structural failures, leading to leaks, fires, and even sinking. Therefore, the international maritime industry has placed great emphasis on ensuring that cargo ships are maintained to minimize the risk of rusting and corrosion.
Regular inspection and maintenance are vital to keeping rust at bay. The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) has developed a set of standards and recommendations for inspection, maintenance, and repair of ships. The IACS provides the framework for survey and maintenance programs that each vessel must undertake, ensuring that each ship is kept in optimal condition.
Rusting and corrosion are inevitable challenges faced by the shipping industry. However, the IACS standards have made it mandatory for shipowners to maintain their vessels to minimize the risks associated with rusting. By following these standards, ship owners can be confident that their vessels are in good condition, ensuring safe, and reliable performance for years to come.