US Coast guard issues pirate parts warning

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

07 April 2017


Counterfeit or pirate part warnings are most often connected with safety related items such as pyrotechnics or immersion suits but a new safety warning issued by the US Coast Guard highlights the fact that counterfeit parts are a much bigger problem. During a recent investigation of a ferry propulsion failure, USCG investigators discovered evidence of falsely identified fasteners being used as part of the drive train system. Several installed bolt heads separated from their shanks and, as a result, a splined hub coupling loosened and disconnected from the reduction gear transmission. This then overstressed the stern tube seal, allowing water to leak into the engine room. Bolt heads generally include markings that indicate grade and manufacturer. The grade is associated with a bolt’s mechanical properties and composition. In this instance one fastener was marked with a manufacturer listed on the US Department of Energy’s Suspect / Counterfeit Part Headmark List and not listed in the US Department of Commerce’s Fastener Quality Act Register of Active Fastener Insignias. The USCG said in its warning that falsified purchasing or identifying documentation has misled purchasers into accepting items that do not conform to specified requirements. Types of misrepresentation in documentation include:
  • product sources (counterfeits);
  • product records;
  • markings as to class, type, or grade;
  • labelling as to qualification or acceptance by testing / certifying organisations; and
  • used products misrepresented as new products
The USCG strongly recommends that all vessel owners, operators, and technical personnel maintain awareness of the issue and implement policies and procedures aimed at identifying them.