Types of project and equipment cargo
Although the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (the "CSS Code") defines many common cargoes, there is no clear definition of project and equipment cargo. The types of project and equipment cargoes vary, and they are normally carried by multipurpose vessels or semi-submersible vessels which are specially designed for large and heavy project cargoes. However, using general cargo ships or bulk carriers to carry project cargoes is not uncommon either.
Project cargo normally consists of part of a project being constructed somewhere in the world, e.g. power plants, wind turbines, oil and gas facilities, port and mining facilities, heavy machinery, boilers and heavy pipes etc.
Shipments in recent years show that project cargo is often of the following types:
- Oil, gas and petrochemical equipment including heat exchangers, tanks, boilers, towers, reactor equipment, drilling rigs, air coolers, pumping equipment, dust collectors whether pre-assembled or otherwise;
- Renewable energy equipment or parts including wind turbine blades, towers and generators, tidal turbines and solar panels;
- Port handling and construction equipment such as cranes, jetty platforms, catwalks and single buoy moorings;
- Floating cargo such as tugs, small ferries, barges, landing craft, yachts and other small vessels;
- Rolling stock and heavy machinery such as locomotive engines, vehicles, mining and factory equipment;
- Equipment, gear or machinery designed for installation or for use in construction.
Equipment cargo mainly includes steel structures, preheaters, vehicles, rotary drillers, portable tanks, cable reels, excavators, tower and crawler cranes, plywood cases and containers, etc.
Equipment cargo varies due to irregular size, shape, and its weight. A small piece of cargo may be less than one tonne, whereas a large piece may exceed 20 tonnes. Most equipment cargoes are non-packed cargoes, but some have simple plastic packaging, plywood or metal casing, etc. Such packing is often very thin, soft and easily breakable due to insufficient strength.
Project and equipment cargoes are valuable, and susceptible to claims. In particular, breakage or delay may lead to a potential delay to the whole project, which can result in large and complex claims relating to alleged loss of earnings or loss of use.
Project and equipment cargoes are often large, heavy, non-standardized and consisting of many complex parts. Such cargoes, along with steel products, are often carried on bulk carriers.
The motions of heavy cargoes on longitudinal, vertical and predominantly transverse forces during sea passage will give rise to the majority of problems, causing the cargo to move and shift when improperly secured. The movement of cargo will often cause damage to itself, and potentially cause damage to the ship. Therefore, the characteristics of both cargo and ship must be considered in the stowage, lashing and securing and the relevant rules, standards and requirements must always be complied with.
In general, the following key points and important elements of the cargo and ship should be taken into consideration when planning and during operations:
- Non-standardized and irregular in size and shape, bringing a lot of technical problems and operational issues with regard to the stowage, lashing and securing as well as loading and discharging;
- Often transported together with steel products, with large quantity and in various types, which makes stowage, securing, loading and discharging complex and difficult;
- Most cargoes are without packing, some equipment cargo has simple packing of plastic, plywood case, metal case or frames, which may be weak and unsuitable for transportation.
- Limits of permissible load on tank top, deck and hatch cover, which if exceeded will create a safety and seaworthiness issues e.g. by breaching SOLAS;
- Ship's cranes if used, must have capacities and SWL suitable to lift the heavy units;
- Class approved Cargo Securing Manual (CSM), a mandatory document which provides guidance about lashing and securing of project cargoes, must not be ignored in the planning and during operations;
- The methods to assess the strength of the securing arrangements for the intended characteristic of the cargoes, which are available in the CSM, should be verified;
- Class approval of strength and stability calculations, which is conducted specifically for excluded stowage conditions in the ship's Loading Manual or Loadmaster for intended cargoes, e.g. heavy-lift cargoes stowed on deck and hatch covers, is required;
- For carriage of critical and valuable project cargo, a stability calculation should include a compartment flooding situation (for 1 or 2 compartments), and the preparation of a contingency plan for emergencies is necessary.
The foremost consideration in considering the necessity of a pre-loading survey for project and equipment cargoes is whether the cargoes are sensitive to claims, and / or may cause damage to the vessel or other cargo during loading, transit or discharge. Based on an assessment of these factors a pre-loading survey for project and equipment cargo may be required and Skuld encourage Members to carry out pre-loading surveys every time project and equipment cargoes are to be loaded.