Posts in Category: News

What are marine breakaway couplings and why are they important?

Marine Breakaway Couplings – avoid making the headlines for all the wrong reasons

Environmental concerns and health and safety issues are hot topics in today’s world of engineering. Damaging spillages or a poor workforce safety record can make it even harder to compete for business in a straitened market.

In a world where no one wants accidents, Marine breakaway couplings (or MBCs) provide an innovative solution to transporting hazardous and non-hazardous liquids and gases safely.

Expertly engineered to withstand the challenge of extreme environments both on and offshore, the unique selling point of an MBC is that it is designed to decouple when subjected to an atypical tensile stress. When your marine hose transfer system encounters unexpected pressure surges or axial loads, which exceed a pre-set maximum, the MBC activates, automatically shutting and closing off the valves on one or both sides of a pre-determined parting point, allowing your hose system to decouple safely. The flow of gas or liquid is stopped, preventing spillage, leakage and loss.

Not convinced of the benefits over a traditional coupling system?

Industry insiders know that safe decoupling protects the environment, your workforce and your assets. Furthermore, it may enhance the reputation of your business by projecting a responsible company image – and reputation matters, as Shell found out to their cost in the Gulf of Mexico.

Of course, the benefits of avoiding a major offshore oil spill or chemical fire are obvious; environmental clean-ups are expensive and attract the wrong sort of media attention. Spills of hazardous materials also endanger your workforce, affecting your health and safety record, your standing as an employer and your insurance premiums. In an industry where safety is of the utmost importance, it pays to have the best safeguards.

Uncontrolled flow not only damages the environment. Pressure surges and spillages can cause costly system damage and, if your state of the art equipment is adversely affected, then your productivity (and profit) is too. No business can afford unplanned downtime and repair and clean-up costs in a market that is already so fiercely competitive.

Still unconvinced of the benefits? Not enough that using a Marine Breakaway coupling reduces risk and demonstrates that your company is committed to using proven engineering solutions to enhance terminal safety and prevent pollution?

Then listen to the experts.

In November 2008 the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) produced an information paper on the subject of MBCs stating that:

“the value of a device that serves as a part of the risk mitigation strategy and provides protection in such events to critical assets, and also reduces pollution to relatively minor amounts in the event of an incident, is recognised by industry and Marine Breakaway Couplings (MBCs) are now routinely specified for new offshore installations.”

MBCs, designed and engineered to the specific requirements of your company, are the future.

The features and benefits of the type of flooring chosen for bridges and marine decks

For maximum safety floor surfaces need to be non-slip and anti-skid to prevent accidents and injury while durable enough to resist wear-and-tear from traffic that pass over it as well as damage inflicted by prolonged exposure to the elements. High-risk flooring surfaces such as that of bridges and marine vessels require state-of-the-art bridge and marine deck surface systems to minimise the threats inherent to those types of flooring.

Features of bridge and marine deck surfaces that are suitable for their intended purpose include ease of application, durability, resistance to corrosion as well as minimum time taken for the flooring material to set and cure. The benefits associated with these types of surface systems are a reduced chance of accidents caused by treacherous flooring such as those found on bridge surfaces during inclement weather or marine decks during rough seas and storms.

Features of the type of flooring chosen for bridges and marine decks.

Surface membranes of bridge flooring and marine decks tend to consist of a combination of epoxy primer, polyurethane and aluminium oxide aggregate which together facilitate waterproof and corrosion-resistant properties while preventing traffic from slipping and sliding when the surface is covered in water, oil or other substances. Single or multi-layered flooring is available while surface coatings come in a variety of grade options for different volumes of traffic.

The substances used can be applied to a range of construction materials used in the building of bridges and marine structures including concrete, steel and timber which bestows the surfaces in question with a waterproof, non-slip, non-skid and long-lasting membrane which requires little maintenance work. Marine deck and bridge surface systems can be applied to new or existing flooring in low temperatures and may be either painted or sprayed onto surfaces.

Benefits of the type of flooring chosen for bridges and marine decks.

Surface membranes applied to bridge flooring and marine decks must be hard-wearing to prevent the flooring from becoming abraded by foot or vehicular traffic, impact-resistant due to the risk of heavy objects falling onto surfaces as well as corrosion-resistant because of the caustic properties of acid rain, automotive fuel, chloride, seawater and oil. For minimum disruption to traffic floor coatings should dry and cure in the shortest amount of time possible.

Modern flooring systems used on the surfaces of bridges and marine decks are designed to be applied in a quick and easy manner, to set in as little time as possible so that the surface can soon be reopened to traffic to prevent delays as well as durable to stop it from becoming worn-down by friction or damaged by impacts. Contemporary surface membranes are also designed to resist corrosion and fouling caused by repeated contact with harmful substances.

The odourless properties of modern surface coatings provide an added benefit to construction workers and to traffic. Contemporary flooring systems are designed for minimum environmental impact and surfacing materials are available for use on bridges and marine decks that contain no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).

The Primary Causes of Boat Oil Spills, and their Adverse Effects

Oil spills happen for a number of reasons, with some of the primary causes being:

• When oil tankers break down due to faulty equipment
• When attempts are made after they have run aground and holes are caused from abrasions against rocks and sand
• Motor boats leaking fuel
• Through drilling works that are being carried out at sea

Oil spills from boats are considered to be a form of pollution, and have an incredibly adverse effect on the environment, especially where animals are concerned.

What are the effects of oil spills on animals?
Animals, especially sea birds, that are affected by oil spills, suffer hypothermia, poisoning, and blindness, all of which can lead to their eventual death. Oil spills are a death threat to sea otters too. They have air bubbles in their fur that help them to float and survive the cold water. When these air bubbles are covered with oil, the otters also suffer from hypothermia, and lose the ability to swim properly too, and eventually die.

Killer whales are a third group of sea animals for which an oil spill is a death sentence. The oil blocks up the whale’s blow hole, making it unable to breathe underwater. They also die from poisoning when they eat sea birds or fish that have already been contaminated by the oil spill.

Small organisms such as plankton and larval fish, as well as other sea life like seaweed, mussels, and oysters, die from the effects of an oil spill, which has an enormous damaging effect on the food chain. Fish that normally prey on these small animals will die from lack of food, and their predators in turn, will also be effected.

Oil forms a thick layer on the surface of the water, thus blocking out the sunlight that marine plant life needs to thrive. They are then unable to photosynthesise, which leads to the gradual reduction of oxygen under the sea. Not only do the plants themselves die, but their inability to photosynthesise will have disastrous effects on the natural food chain, thus affecting all marine life in the area.

In some cases, entire species of marine mammals, birds, and fish have been killed off through oil spills. These spills also damage the reproductive systems of many marine animals, making it harder for their population to recover.

Gall Thomson have designed marine breakaway couplings which enable the safe transfer of hazardous and non-hazardous liquids and gases, and dramatically reduce the risk of spillage.

What is spear fishing, is it legal and how do I get into it?

Spearfishing is an old method of fishing that’s been used for thousands of years. Ancient civilisations used sharpened sticks to catch fish from rivers and streams. The modern spearfishing now uses slings or powdered spearguns to strike the fish. In fact, many special methods and tools have been developed for targeting different types of fish.

Spearfishing attracts large numbers of people who want to catch their next meal or to fish competitively at local and national levels. British rivers provide some of the best spearfishing opportunities in the world, as long as you master basic techniques and learn how to overcome strong tides. However, there are many coastlines in the UK that provide excellent visibility for beginner fishers. Some of these areas include the southwest of England and Scotland, although there are many other locations that equally provide good fishing opportunities.

How to get into spearfishing
By far the safest way to get into spearfishing is to join a club and learn the ins and outs of this sport from experienced fishermen. You can find these clubs by browsing the Internet. It is also advisable to learn how to snorkel without the use of underwater breathing equipment. Once you can hold your breath underwater for at least 20 seconds, you will be able to move on to the next level.

Are you fit enough to spearfish?
As the sea is a potentially harsh environment, you must be prepared for any eventualities in advance. With this in mind, you should be in good physical health and be able to swim 200m. If you have a history of heart problems, it is best to seek medical advice before spearfishing. If you are in a fit condition, this sport can help maintain your cardiovascular health without putting pressure on your joints or muscles.

Is spearfishing legal?
You don’t need a license for certain types of spearguns, however, spears are potentially dangerous tools and according to the law, they are offensive weapons that cannot be carried in public places. If you wish to spearfish in the sea around Britain’s coast, you won’t need a license or permit, but spearfishing is illegal in the non-tidal areas of rivers. There is also national legislation on the minimum size of fish that can be legally taken.

You can find all your spearfishing equipment needs at Apnea Spearfishing who export all over the world, from spearguns to wetsuits to snorkels.