How the Maintenance Plan of Ship is Made?

The main aim of any maintenance plan on ship is to get the maintenance and repair work done in the least possible time with minimum costs.

A maintenance plan is therefore followed by every shipping company to ensure that the ship’s machinery maintains a particular standard of operation and safety.

dry dock
Image for representation purpose only

Maintenance plan is an imperative element of ship’s routine operations and also forms an integral component of ship’s maintenance mechanism.

While making a maintenance plan, several aspects are taken into consideration, starting from the International safety management code (ISM) to the guidelines put forth by the machine manufacturers.

 What should be the main objectives of a maintenance plan?

 As mentioned before, the main objective of a maintenance plan is to make sure that the work is done in the least possible time with utmost efficiency and at optimum cost.


Various points mentioned in the ISM code are taken into consideration, along with company’s procedures and manufacturer’s guidelines.

Other aspects include type of the ship, condition of the ship, age of the ship etc.

How is the maintenance plan made and implemented?

In order to carry out a successful maintenance plan, the following steps are considered in order to form a strategic approach:

  1.  Identifying the problem
  2. Establishing the clause
  3. Proposing solution
  4. Evaluating solution
  5. Implementing solution
  6. Evaluating effectiveness
  7. Solving

While developing a maintenance procedure for a particular ship, the shipping company takes the following points into consideration:

  •  Maintenance guidelines and specifications given by the manufacturer
  • History of equipment including failures, defects, damagers, and remedial action
  • Guidelines mentioned in the ISM code
  • Age of the ship
  • Third party inspections
  • Consequences of failure of equipment on safe operation of the ship
  • Critical equipment and systems
  • Intervals of maintenance

Considering the above mentioned points, a systematic approach to maintenance is made. This is necessary to ensure that nothing is missed while carrying out the maintenance procedure.

Following steps are included in the approach for maintenance procedure:

  •  Establishment of maintenance intervals
  • Methods and frequency of inspections
  • Specification of the type of inspection
  • Type of measuring equipment to be used
  • Establishment of appropriate acceptance criteria
  • Assignment of responsibility for inspection activities to appropriately qualified personnel
  • Clear definition of reporting requirements and mechanisms

Maintenance interval forms the most important aspect of the maintenance plan.

The maintenance interval decided in the plan is based on the following factors:

  • Manufactures recommendations and specifications
  • Predictive maintenance determination techniques
  • Practical experience of the engineers in operation and maintenance of ship and its machinery
  • Historical trends obtained from the results of routine inspections, and in nature and rate of failures.
  • The use of the equipment – continuous, intermittent, standby, or emergency
  • Practical and operational restrictions
  • Guidelines for internals specified as part of class, convention, administration and company requirements
  • Need for regular testing of S/B arrangement                     

Lastly, following steps are included for writing down the final procedure for planned inspection routines :

  • Criteria for inspection
  • Use of appropriate measuring and testing equipment
  • Calibration of measuring and testing equipment
  • The type of inspection and test to be employed – visual, vibration, pressure, temperature, electrical, load, water tightness

Considering the above mentioned points, a systematic and planned maintenance procedure is made which also forms an integral part of ship’s planned maintenance system.

For inspection purpose checklist are often used to ensure that the inspection, test and maintenance are performed according to the guidelines of manufacturers, shipping company, and the ISM code.

Do you have info to share with us ? Suggest a correction

About Author

Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.

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  1. Hi Raunek,

    What programs do these ships use to keep track of maintenance coming due, or that has been performed? Are they computer programs now or is a lot of this stuff tracked on paper?

    I’m in the aviation maintenance field and I would like to see what the similarities are.


  2. @Chris: Almost every ship has a computerized program which keeps a track of the due maintenance. A small eg. of how the system works –
    First, the ships engineer officer will feed the data manually to the system depending on the running hours of the machinery. If the maintenance of the machinery is due in near future or overdue, the program will indicate it accordingly as upcoming or overdue.

  3. Dear Anish.

    Your explanation is great. I would like to get a sample of such a program.


  4. Need for regular testing of S/B arrangement

    Could you please explain what is S/B arrangement ??

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