Microbiological growth can occur and cause serious and costly problems in the marine industry. If microbial growth develops in refinery and terminal storage tanks, it can contaminate the fuel bunkered by end-users such as shipping operators, workboats, naval vessels and offshore oil and gas facilities. In addition, if water is present in fuel tanks on-board, further microbial growth can occur, leading to complete power loss and engine failures.
Lubricating and hydraulic oil systems may also be affected by microbial growth. Microbial activity can also result in excessive pitting corrosion in ships fuel tanks, in hull plate in bilges, in ballast and cargo tanks, and on harbour piling and offshore structures such as wind farms.
Control of microbiological contamination of water used on-board ships is a key requirement for crew and passenger safety. Some of the key issues that microbiological contamination can cause in the marine industry are outlined below.