Lay-Up Passenger Ships

Gary Woolley Uncategorized
Passenger Ship Layup

Lay-up Passenger Ships Current Situation

Passenger Ship Layup

With the current covid situation globally we have seen virtually all passenger ship activity stop globally. The only valid exception to this has been ferry services on a local or international coastal service. Where it depends on the interstate or inter country quarantine requirements put up by the authorities as this crisis has developed. This has meant there is an unprecedented need to lay-up passenger ships.

Where do passenger ships lay-up when not in service?

That’s a good question. Currently the industry is in crisis and they find themselves with no prior experience, history or knowledge on how to manage this crisis. Currently the welcome mat has been removed and in some countries and places find themselves not welcome. As such the options are to go alongside a wharf or go to anchor.  The anchorage option is more cost effective. At MLS we work with one location that is about to receive the first passenger ships in May 2020. It meets all the approval requirements, is close to Singapore & Kuala Lumpur, and has received approval for passenger ships to lay-up.

Passenger Ship Lay-Up Maintenance When Not In Service

As such the lessons that need to be learnt will come from lay-up knowledge gained initially from the oil crisis in the mid 1970’s, where machinery preservation and maintenance routines for vessels were first learnt. In the GFC crisis in the 2010’s more knowledge was gained on how to manage the vast amounts of electronic equipment that has made its way into vessels in the previous decades. When a lot of dynamically positioned (DP) vessels, that are electronic dependent, were reactivated to re-enter service after the GFC, reliability issues developed for vessels that were cold stacked. This is due to failure modes associated with electronic equipment. Lessons learnt from that period tend to indicate that the best practice is to keep some form of power to the electrical systems, even if not powered up, to increase overall long term reliability.

The model in the oil & gas industry for example would be to either raft rigs and back feed one warm stacked rig to 3 others at anchorage, or at a wharf to use shore power or rental generators to achieve the same goal with watchmen on board. Anchorages are cheaper option and of course wharves cost a lot more. Other astute operators did redundancy reviews and removed all electronic equipment as they decided by the time they came for their vessels the equipment would be obsolete anyway.

Overall some form of maintenance routines need to change when a vessel in not in full operation. Some software providers now have the possibility to switch ‘modes’ for maintenance activities based upon service of the vessel. This allows suppression and/or change in maintenance requirements based upon the actual needs of the vessel. Some form of maintenance review should be conducted when a vessel changes from an active mode to determine validity of the maintenance activities. This will allow in a reduction in operational cost.


Passenger Ship Minimum Layup Location Requirements

 The following factors should be considered prior to choosing a final location.

  • Approved by state or local authorities
  • Sheltered from open seas
  • With minimal tidal currents
  • A good holding ground for anchors
  • Outside of a typhoon/cyclone belt
  • Other factors to consider are
  • First of all close to major shipping routes?
  • Close to a major maritime hub for technical support?
  • Is it easy to access your vessel for inspections?
  • If I require a dry dock is there one close by?
  • Are there any security concerns?
  • Lastly how much will it cost?


At MLS we have a couple of locations in Asia, Europe, and the drier Middle East, with multiple berths that we use for lay-up of passenger ships both warm & cold stacked. They meet all the above points and offer the ability in the longer term to reduce staff level below the minimum manning requirements. This would be based upon submission of a valid risk assessment to the authorities.


Contact us if you wish to know more how we can assist you navigate the options that may face you!


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