Project and equipment are sensitive and high-value cargoes and can easily be damaged if handled improperly. The damage and loss to such cargoes are mostly caused by improper operations and insufficient supervision. Therefore, from a loss-prevention perspective, applying best practices as well as fully understanding and controlling the various key phases in the process of stowage, loading, securing and discharging operations play an important role in safe transportation.
This guide is a supplement to the loss prevention article on shipment of project and equipment cargoes, published on skuld.com on 28 June 2021. It provides member's managers, masters, and preloading surveyors with insight to correct methods of project and equipment shipment on bulk carriers. It offers recommendations of best practices for loading, stowing, lashing, securing, monitoring and discharging of project and equipment cargoes.
Best practices and considerations in operations
- Ensure that the parties' agreed stowage plan is readily available upon berthing and followed during loading operations.
- Endeavour to stow heavy project cargoes close to the centre of the ship's motion, as the more it deviates from the centre, the more acceleration forces will be generated from the vessel's motion during a voyage. The below sketch shows the distribution of acceleration forces due to a ship's movement.
- Obtain satisfactory results on the calculations of the strength and stability for all critical stages of the loading/discharging, departure and arrival etc.
- Cargo to be laid without breaching the limit of permissible load on tank tops, tween-decks, decks, or hatch covers.
- Stacking of the cargo, if allowable, should not exceed the limit provided by shippers or specified in cargo documents.
- Try to avoid stowage of the project cargo at the most forward part on deck, which is more prone to sloshing seas during the ship's pitch motion.
- If possible, achieve a GM that allows vessel to avoid violent or heavy rolling.
- If possible, plan the stowage such that the heavy project cargoes can be lifted with the crane(s) working at an angle that avoids excessive strain or potential overload.
- Leave sufficient space to facilitate proper lashing and securing as well as regular checking and necessary re-tightening during the voyage.
- If there is more than one discharge port, ensure that the remaining voyage is still safe after part of the cargoes have been discharged at an earlier port.
- Establish a good and efficient communication with all parties during operations, e.g. Chief Officer, Duty Officers, Supercargo, Foreman, Shipper's Representative and Surveyors.
- Hold tool-box meetings amongst the operation team members to brief on the requirements and key phases of the loading operation.
- Discuss the plan and procedures of loading and securing with attending MWS (Marine Warranty Surveyor), if any, and obtain their approval prior to loading.
- Monitor and observe the weather conditions to avoid weather effects on the cargoes and loading operation; loading operation in daylight hours is recommended.
- Prior and during loading, inspect and test the loading gear and devices to ensure all slings, spreaders, and beams as well as connections are in good working order.
- Use well-trained and experienced crane operators to handle cranes, especially when lifting heavy cargoes with cranes working in tandem.
- Closely monitor and follow the planned loading sequence and ballasting/de-ballasting operation to maintain stability criteria.
- Coordinate with Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) obtaining information on passing vessels in the vicinity. This to avoid wave damage by passing vessels, especially during loading from barges.
- The heavy-lift project cargo may be vulnerable to move or shift on deck or in the hold where loading occurs without proper securing in advance and in the absence of a considerable heeling.
- Gently land the cargoes after the dunnage and cradles have been properly positioned.
- Cooperate with attending preloading surveyors and get their guidance; notify P&I club if there are any significant issues during loading operation.
Lashing and securing
- Keep in mind the guidance in CSS (Cargo Stowing and Securing) Code that "the application of the methods described in Annex 13 is supplementary to the principles of good seamanship and shall not replace experience in stowage and securing practice".
- A plan of sufficient lashing and securing is made to comply with the ship's CSM (Cargo Securing Manual) and the Rule-of-Thumb in CSS Code Annex 13 section 5, which specifies that "the total of the MSL values of the securing devices on each side of a unit of cargo (port as well as starboard) should equal the weight of the unit".
- Ensure that materials including size, construction and arrangement of the sea fastening elements are in line with the plan.
- The condition of the lashing equipment with valid certificates are in good condition and suitable for use, and that the Maximum Securing Load (MSL), which is calculated from the certificates of the lashing materials, is available.
- Select and use suitable types of lashing materials according to plan and nature of the cargo unit, e.g. wire ropes, chains, web lashing or solid-sea fastening. Note the following:
- Wire ropes are easy to arrange, but re-tensioning during the voyage is needed.
- Chains have higher strength capacity, but tension will be lost once loosened.
- Web lashing is easy to handle, but it is suitable for smaller or lighter cargo only.
- Solid sea fastening which is often fabricated with steel plates or beams is normally applied to large and heavy units, but proper design and qualified welding operators are necessary.
- Properly arrange sufficient dunnage to distribute the weight on tank tops, decks and hatch covers and provide adequate friction. Steel beams or grillages under toes/bottom of heavy units are necessary.
- The optimum angle between lashing and deck is 25° to 45° to prevent slippage. When the angle is greater than 60°, the lashing can prevent tipping, but will do little to prevent sliding.
- Same lashing materials are used at one side or direction, avoiding using mixed types of lashing materials in the same direction.
- Weld D-rings, stoppers or braces to distribute dynamic loads in a correct position by a qualified welder and use these devices in a correct manner. Non-Destructive-Tests (NDT) to check the welding quality should be carried out.
- Lashing effectiveness depends on the weakest part of the lashing line and links of a rigid nature. Note the following:
- Inter links include shackles, turnbuckles, wire grommets, web lashing hooks, lashing wires and chains as well as webs etc.
- Lashing materials are in good condition with available associated certificates of the products.;
- Correct manner of lashing, equipment connections and ending are very important.
- Pay attention to the dead end securing of wire ropes, engagement and securing of chain lever tensioner or web lashing ratchet.
- Arrange proper sheathing material at passing sharp edge of cargo and lashing points to prevent chafing damage to lashing wires and web.
- Consider stress and bending impact to the cargo and ship as a result of rigid sea fastening of large size project cargo.
- Verify strength of lashing and securing of heavy project cargo on loading and lashing completion in order to assess any changes or deviation of stability from the initial plan.
- Confirm that the forces introduced by the lashing/securing are enough to withstand the forces leading to the movement of cargo by tipping and sliding (transverse and longitudinal).
- Properly assess and evaluate circumstances the vessel may encounter during the voyage to prepare necessary spare lashing materials.
- Prepare a contingency plan in case lashing force is out of control and cargo jettison is required for heavy project cargoes stowed on deck.
Monitoring during voyage
- Chief Officer inspects the cargoes within 24 hours after departure so that the vessel can return or deviate in time for re-stowing/re-lashing. Advise P&I club immediately if such return or deviation is required.
- Evaluate and consult available weather information or use ocean route services to make a good passage plan.
- Use good seamanship to steer and steam the ship and adjust heading during bad weather to avoid violent rolling and pitching which may put strain on the lashing and securing.
- Check the cargo and re-secure the lashings after experiencing heavy weather; in the case of any damage, make all efforts to rearrange and re-wrap the shifted cargo as well as to re-lash and re-tighten the slack lashing.
- Maintain good records of inspections, damages, cargo shifting, re-lashing and retightening etc. during the voyage. Photographs and videos are good evidence to defend claims and assist with the investigation.
- Conduct further verification of the remaining lashing and securing if the vessel stability varies along with the change of ballast, consumption of fuel or discharge/load at an intermediate port until satisfaction before resuming the voyage.
- Appointment of surveyor is necessary to monitor the discharge operation and to ensure the project cargoes being smoothly discharged.
- Maintain the lashings and securing for the project cargoes which are not being discharged.
- Heavy project cargo discharged into barge holds shall be lashed/secured properly to avoid shifting and moving due to barge rolling during discharge.
- Monitor the operation to ensure the cargo is smoothly landed ashore as cargo damage often occur during cargo landing operation.
- Check and ensure that no loose part of the lashing/securing devices is attached to the cargo unit before being lifted from the stowage position.
- Remove the sea fastening fittings smoothly to avoid damage to the cargo unit, ensuring no cutting sparks spreading to cargoes nearby and underneath.
- Take photographs and video during the course of heavy and sensitive project cargoes discharge operation and their landing on barge, truck or ashore.
- Issue letter of protest for stevedore rough handling and stevedore damages etc. Notify P&I club if any damage is significant.
The Association is grateful to Mr. Lin Hong of Beacon Marine Consultant Co., Ltd for contributing to this article.