In the dynamic and intricate world of shipping, the efficient and safe transfer of liquids between vessels and shore-based facilities is of paramount importance. To meet the demands of modern shipping and ensure the safety of cargo operations, the maritime industry relies on advanced equipment and technologies. Marine Loading Arms (MLA) have become indispensable tools that expedite the loading and unloading of various fluids, in a wide range of viscosities and temperatures, ranging from crude oil and chemicals to liquefied natural gas ( LNG) and refined petroleum.
Marine loading arms are flexible enough to accommodate any movement of the vessel during loading/unloading. These hydraulically operated marine loading arms are equipped with couplings and emergency release systems and meet the fastest and safest loading/unloading requirements.
By providing a seamless connection between vessels and terminals, MLAs have revolutionized the way liquid cargo is transferred, ensuring a fast, reliable and secure process.
In essence, a marine loading arm is a specialized mechanical system designed to transfer fluids from a storage facility or terminal to a vessel, or vice versa. Unlike traditional methods involving hose lines and gantry cranes, marine loading arms offer a more controlled and safer process. They are designed with multiple degrees of freedom, allowing them to move in various directions, including the vertical, horizontal, and rotation axes. This exceptional mobility gives MLAs the flexibility to adapt to different vessel sizes, tidal variations, and weather conditions, ensuring a consistent and reliable transfer operation.
Marine loading arms should be specified/designed to account for movement of the tanker during loading/unloading due to tides/waves/wind and increase/decrease in load. Each loading arm is built with a certain operating envelope in mind. If a connected loading arm is forced out of this envelope, it should be immediately disconnected (manually or automatically on some systems). Key elements influencing the required operating envelope include the DWT of the tanker, tidal range, maximum wave height, dock construction elevation, and the size/number of loading arms on the jetty.
Marine loading arms are often hydraulically powered. A hydraulic system, which often services all of the loading arms on a jetty side, is used to move the arms into position on the ship's deck and to retract the arms after use.
For loading/unloading of small barges, usually only a marine loading arm is used. While for VLCC several are used (up to 4 marine loading arms in parallel).
A typical marine loading arm consists of several essential components, each contributing to its functionality and safety:
Optional Equipment : Marine loading arms are often accompanied by an gangway access system, which provides safe passage for personnel between the ship and the terminal, and by quick release mooring hooks.
Marine loading arms offer a plethora of advantages that have contributed to their widespread adoption: