Time to steer toward safer and sustainable mooring lines
Mooring lines are one of the most important pieces of equipment for ensuring the safety of dockside personnel and crew. Nevertheless, safety incidents and severe accidents are all too common – many of them involving mooring line breakages. In March 2015, for example, a deck officer on board the LNG tanker Zarga suffered severe head injuries when he was struck by an HMPE mooring line that had parted during a berthing operation.
To be safer, mooring lines must be stronger – and with ships increasing in size, this has never been more important. What’s more, with concern about climate change growing rapidly, sustainability is an increasingly important consideration.
Thankfully, technical solutions offering higher levels of reliability and durability are at hand. Because of their unique chemical and mechanical properties, aramids such as Twaron® and Technora®, made by Teijin Aramid, can enable stronger, lighter, and more durable mooring lines – helping to keep operators safer and drive sustainability.
Safer: reliable in hotter areas
One cause of mooring line breakages – and subsequent injuries – is failure at high temperatures. Tests where UHMWPE mooring lines appear to perform well are often conducted only in wet, 21°C laboratory conditions – even though safe mooring line operations require reliability in all weather conditions. In particular, mooring line solutions must be able to cope with the elevated temperatures that can arise on deck, and in hotter or drier geographical areas where temperatures can easily rise above 50°C. Aramid fiber does not melt until 450°C – so, at higher temperatures, aramid-based mooring lines perform better and for longer than any other synthetic mooring line solution.
Stronger: for today’s demanding applications
Today, there is a relentless drive for ever-larger ships: the largest container vessels are almost 15 times as big as those in 1968. This increase in size demands stronger mooring lines. Aramid fiber provides the strong solution required. Five times stronger than steel, it also offers the excellent dimensional stability and flexibility that is important in mooring operations. What’s more, aramid yarn does not suffer from creep – a significant issue with HMPE fibers.
Picture of Twaron mooring lines in operation at hotter and drier geographical areas
Sustainable: moving toward greener solutions
Safety and strength aren’t the only benefits of aramid-based mooring lines. As concern around climate change grows and sustainability regulations tighten, the sustainability of aramid-based mooring lines is an increasingly significant advantage. Indeed, aramid-based mooring lines have much greater lifespans and can be more easily recycled. When they reach the end-of-life stage, aramid from these mooring lines can be used to manufacture brake linings and brake pads, providing a replacement for asbestos.
Picture of Twaron mooring lines recycled into pulp for asbestos replacement
With regulatory landscapes moving fast, and the public demanding safer and more sustainable operations, the mooring line industry would do well to think twice before investing further in traditional solutions. Superior technology is available – so, let’s work together to make the maritime industry safer, stronger, and more sustainable.