Coming clean

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

09 March 2016


Yesterday’s revelation by Wartsila of rigged test results of fuel consumption figures at its Italian engine plant was brave, but following on from the VW cases and marine rival MAN Diesel’s own test rigging, shipowners might be wondering who they can trust when it comes to equipment. According to Wärtsilä, just a small percentage of engines were affected and the fuel consumption figures were only adjusted by a matter of 1% or so. If that is the true extent of the issue then given the diversity of operating condition that the ships with those engines would have been operating in, then it is quite likely that they went undiscovered by clients. But that does not detract from the fact that cheating had been going on. Just as with the ‘magic pipe’ oil pollution incidents, it is hard to imagine that those involved in the actual act did so without some knowledge – and perhaps pressure – from above, and just as with VW there will be some who believe this is the tip of the iceberg. Doubtless Wartsila will be attempting to make amends with the customers affected and perhaps a line can be drawn under this unsavoury matter. Perhaps in future, shipowners will feel that they need to be less trustful of OEM claims and test results and rely more on their own judgement. That may involve them taking a reality check on whether they have the staff experienced enough to make those judgements. Many would say that in some of today’s ship operating enterprises that is not guaranteed.