Permanent and temporary underwater rudder repairs

Permanent and temporary underwater rudder repairs

We perform repairs at anchorage on any type of rudder or while the vessel is berthed without interrupting cargo operations. In most cases these repairs are permanent and do not require follow up.

The following case studies give an account of some of the more important recent underwater rudder repairs performed by Hydrex. They showcase the wide variety of repair solutions we can offer to shipowners.

Emergency afloat rudder operation in Le Havre

The rudder of a 250-meter crude oil tanker started showing wrong readings. An inspection uncovered that the rudder was not aligned correctly anymore and that its movements did not match the readings. The ship was unable to sail any further and an on-site solution was needed. One of our diver/technician teams therefore mobilized to Le Havre, France to perform an emergency repair operation.

After arriving at the vessel’s location the divers performed a detailed inspection of the rudder. This revealed that the rudder pintle needed to be removed to perform a permanent repair. The stormy weather conditions in Le Havre could cause the rudder to move, which would make it impossible to reinstall the pintle in-situ. For this reason it was decided that the ship needed to be towed to the nearest available drydock, in Brest for permanent repairs. This changed the scope of the work completely. Because our teams are trained to handle challenging and constantly changing circumstances, they adapted to the new task without any problem or delay. We proposed to secure the rudder so that the vessel could be towed safely.

The team pulled the rudder to a zero angle. They also took the exact measurements needed to fabricate four securing plates that would fully lock the rudder in the neutral position. Once the plates were delivered, they were modified by the team to the correct size. Next they installed the stiffeners on both sides of the rudder. This would prevent the rudder from moving and causing further damage while the ship was towed.

Upon completion of the operation the attending surveyor, together with the superintendent and captain, inspected and approved the repairs. Thanks to our team the ship could be towed safely to Brest for permanent repairs.

Wet welding repairs of rudder cracks

A 228-meter vehicle carrier had several cracks along the hinges connecting the rudder flap to the main rudder blade. Fortunately most of those could be repaired by grinding them away and filling the area with clad welding.

Three of the cracks were too big and needed a different approach. Our diver/welders first drilled arrests on all sides of these cracks to prevent them from spreading. They then positioned a C-shaped plate over each of the cracks and secured it with wet welding.

This allowed the owner to sail the vessel without having to worry about the condition of the rudder. He can have a permanent repair carried out during the ship’s next scheduled drydock visit at a more convenient time and location.

Luckily the cracks on the rudder were spotted during an underwater inspection before they caused problems for the ship. This once again shows the benefits of having regular inspections carried out by competent divers, followed by comprehensive and accurate reports. Our teams can detect any problem so that they can be corrected early and prevent the more costly repair which neglect and further damage would bring about.

Balanced rudder repair in Antwerp

We were contacted by the owner of a 200-meter vehicle carrier because the rudder of his vessel was not functioning properly. A diver/technician team therefore mobilized from our headquarters with one of the workboats loaded with all the needed equipment.

After arriving at the ship’s location in Antwerp, the team first performed a detailed underwater inspection. This revealed several irregularities on the rudder seals.

Our universal rudder repair mobdock allowed the rudder specialist that was present to perform further inspections in drydock-like conditions. He could then make a detailed assessment of the situation of the rudder and observed several reasons for the malfunctioning.

Following the inspection we proposed a repair plan which was accepted by OEM and the owner. The team then carried out several repairs to remedy the rudder problems. First the existing rudder seal was tightened. Next the two wrong-sized rings were replaced with correct ones and both the upper and lower casing of the rudder seal assembly were reinstalled. The team pumped grease into the system and secured all nuts and bolts. The vessel could then continue its schedule with a fully functioning rudder.

This equipment can be mobilized to any port in the world at moment’s notice. This enables us to offer this service very swiftly on a worldwide basis.

Rudder cover crack repair in Rotterdam

An underwater inspection revealed cracks in the welding seams of both rudder cover plates of a 144-meter tanker. To prevent the pintle nut from corroding, the classification society demanded that the owner had the damage repaired as soon as possible. When the tanker was on its way to Rotterdam we were contacted to find an on-site solution that would prevent an unscheduled and unwelcome trip to drydock.

The classification society had given the owner a very strict deadline. It was therefore essential that our technical department came up with a repair plan that could be carried out very quickly. A diver/technician team immediately mobilized to the vessel’s destination so they could start the operation as soon as the ship arrived in Rotterdam.

Because the tanker was empty, the rudder could be trimmed enough to allow a repair above water. The team first carried out a detailed inspection of the rudder cover plates. This enabled them to make a full assessment of the damage and communicate the information with our technical department. A dye check of the cracks quickly revealed that the damage of the cover plate welding seams was of such extent that replacing both plates in their entirety was the best option.

The team removed the plates and beveled the edges of the rudder plate to fit the new inserts. In the meantime two new plates were arranged by our technical department. They needed to be the right shape to fit the curve of the rudder perfectly. They were collected from the supplier and cut to the right size in our fast response center where a large stock of equipment is available for emergency repairs as this.

The plates were then transported to the vessel. The diver/technicians fit them in the rudder plate and secured them with a full penetration weld. Ultrasonic and magnetic particles tests were successfully carried out by an independent inspector, finalizing the repair. Seven bolt-on anodes were also installed on each side of the rudder.

The entire operation was supervised and approved by a surveyor of the classification society and the condition of class was lifted. Our team worked in shifts the finish the repair in the shortest possible time. When they left the tanker, the satisfied owner could sail his vessel again without having to worry about costly off-hire time.


Performing jobs like these on a tight schedule takes a lot of planning. This can only be done successfully by staff who have familiarity with such operations and the relevant know-how and equipment. We have a technical department capable of executing all the required planning. Our diver/technicians are trained and qualified to perform the full range of required class-approved repair procedures in even the harshest conditions.

Hydrex also has very well-equipped rapid response centers including customized workboats, ready to mobilize directly to the job site. An effective, competent team is the only way to consistently achieve a high quality result in the short periods of time usually available to ships.


If you have any questions regarding a possible rudder repair, do not hesitate to contact us. We are at your disposal 24/7 and ready to mobilize almost immediately.


+32 3 213 53 00

Click on the images below for more rudder repairs and other case studies.

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