What happens when a marine engine needs an overhaul or parts replacement, but this needs to be done efficiently and preferably without taking the vessel out of service? This is where the professionals from Baltic Spares Service come into action and are able to provide the right components and carry out operations on the engine during the voyage.
Baltic Spares Service has been supplying engine parts from manufacturers such as Wärtsilä, Sulzer and MAN to ships around the world for the past thirty years, and overhauls Wärtsilä, Sulzer, MAN, Daihatsu and Yanmar engines. The company prides itself on its sterling reputation, which has enabled it to win customers all over the world during its three decades of operation.
“We specialise in complex work, the kind that requires a lot of experience. We also carry out preventive maintenance in line with engine manufacturers' maintenance,” says Paweł Pellowski, Service Manager at BSS, as we wait at the ferry terminal in Świnoujście for the arrival of one of the vessels sailing from here. In a moment, the service team and I will be boarding the vessel to see with our own eyes what the work on the ship's engine looks like.
“It is a Sulzer 9S20 engine. We carry out a full overhaul of this engine as well as additional work, such as replacing all camshaft bearings, main bearings, anti-vibration pads,” describes Pellowski.
Once on the ferry, we join the two Baltic Spares Service mechanics who have arrived on the ferry. This is how BSS works — it always tries to combine the work of the workshop on land with that of the mechanics on board. This allows some of the work to be transferred to shore, where spare parts and components are prepared accordingly.
“We have recently built a new, fully professional workshop in Gdańsk. There, we try to focus mainly on work that will help us improve repairs on ships — overhauls of cylinder heads, connecting rods, pistons, preparation for our work, and sometimes just preparing parts for a client,” says Paweł Pellowski, as we take the lift down to the ferry's engine room together. At this time, the lorries that have arrived in Poland come off the vessel and those that will sail on board north enter. The standard stopping and reloading of the ferry is underway, with the crew preparing it for the next voyage.
“Here we are combining a workshop overhaul with an onboard overhaul. We have prepared the cylinder heads, connecting rods and other engine components in advance in our workshop in Gdańsk, and we continue the work on board by replacing these components and carrying out all other operations that need to be done on site,” explains Pellowski. “We carry this out during the normal operation of the ship. The ship does not stop, it is constantly moving, our service technicians travel with it all throughout the repair period.”
Moments later, we have the opportunity to see the entire operation with our own eyes. In the dark, noisy and hot engine room, where the ship's powerful engines are running, the Baltic Spares Service team gets the job done efficiently. The work is divided — every employee knows exactly what they are supposed to do, so the whole thing is synchronised and goes smoothly. You can't afford to make a mistake — when working in the engine room, you have to be focused and know exactly what to do and how to do it. The engines run so loudly that there is no room for consultation. The Baltic Spares Service mechanics are replacing one of the engine's pistons, as well as carrying out other repairs and specialised measurements, communicating with each other only by gestures. Everything seems to follow a script written down to a second. After a few tens of minutes, the work is complete, and the engine is ready to work. Meanwhile, a few decks above us, the ship is still being loaded.
Baltic Spares Service, contrary to its name, does not operate exclusively in the Baltic Sea area. The company's seven service groups are spread out in various destinations around the globe. Nor are they limited by a ship type. BSS mechanics are present on various vessels: tankers, container ships, ferries, offshore vessels... As Pawel Pellowski explains, the company specialises in the overhaul of engines from specific manufacturers: Wärtsilä, Sulzer, MAN, Daihatsu and Yanmar, because it has a comprehensive technical knowledge of them, which allows it to carry out repairs properly with full knowledge that is unattainable for some other companies.
“We are able to fully offer a service
solution, whether workshop or shipboard. This is what we base our
business on,” says the Service Manager at Baltic Spares Service.
In recent years, BSS has also taken over the full stock of Polish engine manufacturer FSA H. Cegielski, which built engines under licence from MAN and Sulzer. This has allowed the company to take over engineers who have worked on their construction and know them inside out.
All this means that Baltic Spares Service enjoys the trust of shipowners all over the world. They appreciate the professionalism and ever-growing capabilities of BSS.