High Modulus Polyethylene (HMPE) line, commonly called “spectra” or “plasma”, has been a career-saver for many a deckhand and tankerman. Wire rope push gear, even the triflex type, can be very heavy and unwieldy, and leads to numerous injuries. Especially blown-out backs. HMPE is also much safer in terms of concerns about the synthetic snap-back associated with nylon lines. The downside to the newer technology, as always, is the higher price. So getting the full service life out of it, without unduly compromising safety, is highly desirable. With HMPE being commonly used now for push gear and ship-assist lines (and being the line of choice for most of the modern ship-assist tractor tugs), and in some cases for towing alongside as well, it’s important to know how to judge between when it needs to be retired from service and when it can still be safely used. The same can be said for all of your lines, for that matter. Samson Rope has a 5-page technical bulletin titled Rope Inspection and Retirement which is very helpful if you’re looking for specific guidance with clear photographs to illustrate it. Print it, save it, and make the deckhands and tankermen read it too. Notwithstanding the master’s duty to inspect all of the towing gear before each voyage, it is still through their hands that the line passes most often. Between regular inspections and crew that pay a little attention to their jobs, developing problems can be caught before they cause much bigger problems, so read and heed. Samson also provides all of the splicing instructions you could ever want to have, downloadable as pdf’s.
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