Arc Flash & Electrical Safety News

Blog Author Steve Hudgik

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Marine Arc Flash

The following is from the Institute of Marine Engineering


Electrical systems have been used successfully for over 150 years in ships and typically the main hazard from electricity is believed to arise from electrocution. However, with the rising demand for power on ships leading to the subsequent installation of electrical power systems with high fault current levels, there is an increased potential for arc flash accidents to occur. Arc flash is an electrical discharge or a short circuit through ionised air (plasma) caused by isolation or insulation integrity failure – and also the subject of ‘Marine Arc Flash’, a new conference being organised by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) to be held in central London on Tuesday 8 November 2011.

“The aim of this new conference is simple,” explains IMarEST’s Interim Chief Executive, Fiona Morris. “We want to raise awareness of electric arc flash within the maritime community and uncover best practice to ameliorate the risk of arc flash in ships. The arc flash hazard is beginning to be addressed in land-based industries and considerable research has gone into developing standards, which allow the calculation of heat flux and advises on suitable personnel protection. Now is the time to ensure that operators, owners, designers and maintainers of ships are aware of this danger and can ensure that the arc flash hazard is managed in order to make their vessels safe places to work.

“The arc flash can release tremendous amounts of energy in the form of heat and pressure waves, coupled with the generation of toxic smoke and flying hot debris from the vaporisation of conductive parts. In the confined compartments of ships the hazard is not only to people in the vicinity but also to the functions of the ships from the resulting partial or complete loss of electrical power.”

Looking forward to November’s IMarEST Marine Arc Flash Conference, chairman Kevin Daffey, Chief Technology Officer Electrical Systems, Rolls-Royce plc explains: “Arc flash has the potential to release tremendous amounts of energy into the confined spaces often found on ships. The design of electrical systems to avoid or mitigate its impact is of paramount importance for the safety of ships, their crew and passengers. This technical conference will bring together those in the industry responsible for electrical safety to discuss five key issues, the applicability of new design standards/methods; development of new safe working practices; introduction of personal protective equipment; calculations and risk quantification methods; and impact on marine electrical engineering and operation.”

Jim Phillips, PE Electrical Training Expert, will deliver the opening keynote address, following which presentations during the day-long conference will be given under four main headings ‘Theory’ chaired by Kees Posthumus of Defence Materiel Organisation, The Netherlands; ‘Marine Experience’ with Tony Chronnell of L-3 Offshore in the chair; ‘Mitigation Methods’ led by Shaun White of Converteam UK Ltd; and ‘Design Best Practice’ chaired by Paul Eaton of Converteam UK Ltd.

Speakers under these session headings are from the University of Manchester and University of Strathclyde; TAS Engineering Consultants; Marine Accident Investigation Branch; BP Shipping, BMT Defence Services Ltd; Lloyd’s Register; J & K Ross Ltd; MOD DE&S; Terasaki Electric Co Ltd; Converteam UK Ltd; Aircraft Carrier Alliance; and Rolls-Royce plc; with Kevin Daffey leading the 45 minute discussion session towards the end of the day; and Professor Chris Hodge, Chief Electrical Engineer of BMT Defence Services Ltd and Chairman of the IMarEST Board of Trustees, delivering closing remarks.

Further information on all aspects of IMarEST’s Marine Arc Flash Conference including registration is available from;; and from the Events Department IMarEST, Aldgate House, 33 Aldgate High Street, London EC3N 1EN, UK. Tel: +44 (0)20 7382 2702; Fax: +44 (0)20 7382 2667.

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