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Selected cargoes

Selected cargoes


Due to the fact that more and more goods are carried in containers packed by the shippers, expertise on the loading, stowage, securing, lashing and carrying of non-unitised cargoes is diminishing. This section will therefore provide some basic advice on the handling of certain types of cargoes not carried in containers. Nevertheless, a sub-section also deals with containers.

If a cargo is to be loaded on which there is no or very little information available, the Master and his/her officer should seek written advice from the shippers on the proper stowage, securing, lashing and carrying. In case of doubt, the Master and his/her officers should not hesitate to contact the local P&I correspondent.

2.12.2 Bulk cargoes dry

For details please refer to Gard News 176, Major claims analysis – Dry bulk and unitised cargo. General

Dry bulk cargoes other than concentrates are likely to suffer damage from

• contamination by foreign matter caused by

  • poorly prepared holds containing remnants from previous cargoes
  • defective paint
  • rust and vapour

• deterioration caused by moisture from

  • rain or snow during loading
  • ingress of water during the voyage caused by defective hatch covers, other vessel’s openings, defective sounding pipes, defective gaskets or leakage through defects in the steelwork – sweat during the voyage
  • heating of the cargo due to excessive moisture or a exceedingly high fat content
  • heating damage due to storage of cargo on heated tanks
  • infestation of bulk grain, bagged rice etc.
  • the holds should be free of all loose rust, paint and remnants of previous cargoes
  • pipes leading through the holds should be checked prior to loading to ensure that they are sound and intact
  • manhole covers and hold access covers should be tight and bilges and wells properly covered by burlap or other materials. Condition of holds and portable bulkheads

For bulk cargoes

Portable bulkheads must be properly set up to avoid mixing different cargoes due to the cargoes running through the seams.

Special instructions need to be followed if foodstuffs are to be loaded and the requirements for a clean hold are far more stringent in such circumstances. In some cases, a lime wash may be required.

It is recommended that the Master obtains a clean hold certificate signed by a representative of the shipper prior to the loading of any bulk cargo. Loading and unloading dry bulk cargoes

Prior to the loading and unloading of dry bulk cargoes the Master should agree a plan with the shore terminal, in line with the Code of Safe Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers 1998 edition and the procedures under the vessel’s SMS to ensure that the permissible shear forces and bending moments are not exceeded. Such a plan should include

  • the quantity, sequence and rate of loading or unloading
  • the deballasting or ballasting capability of the vessel.

If the vessel’s permitted stress limits are exceeded during loading, the Master should call the Company to arrange for a surveyor to attend and examine the vessel’s structure.

The plan should be lodged with the appropriate authority of the port State. If the Master encounters any difficulties with the charterer or local authorities in submitting such a plan, he/she should contact the local correspondents for assistance.

During loading, an inspection to ascertain the condition of dry bulk cargo is essential to identify contaminated, wet or deteriorated cargo and taking any necessary and appropriate action, such as stoppage of loading, collecting evidence and, if required, unloading.

If portable bulk heads are required, reference should be made to the vessel’s documents and stability information.

If different bulk cargoes are to be loaded in the same hold, appropriate separation material should be used. Particular care and attention is required to prevent stevedores damaging the separation material and causing admixture of the cargo. Shifting of moist bulk cargoes

For details please refer to Gard Loss Prevention Circular 1105: Series of recent cases highlights dangers of liquefying Chinese fluorspar.

Dry bulk cargoes may be liable to shift and cause severe stability problems, which could result in the vessel capsizing. Each dry bulk cargo has its own individual properties and hazardous nature. The Master should always refer to and follow the instructions and recommendations of the IMO Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes. These are particularly important when testing moisture content and angle of repose to prevent serious problems occurring at a later stage.

Some dry bulk cargoes cannot be loaded without a certificate from the competent authority stating that the cargo is safe to load. Cargoes emitting gas

If a bulk cargo that is likely to emit toxic or inflammable gases is to be loaded, the Master should ensure that suitable gas concentration measurement instruments are used. Crew handling such instruments should be familiar with their use and readings. Concentrates

  • Concentrates are dangerous
  • Precautions prior to loading concentrates
    • carrying out a visual examination to assess the extent and duration of exposure to moisture during storage
    • obtaining and keeping properly labelled and sealed samples for possible testing later.
    • flow moisture point (FMP)
    • TML
    • moisture content
    • angle of repose
    • any chemical hazards and details which may require additional safety precautions.
    • checking and verifying the shipper’s declarations
    • rejecting cargo with a moisture content above the TML
    • filling cargo spaces as much as practicable, within stability, stress and deck loading constraints
    • using longitudinal separation to limit the shifting distance of the cargo, the shift amount and forces involved
    • trimming the cargo so it is level and trimmed out to all sides of the compartment
    • not stowing other cargoes containing moisture in the same compartment
    • not loading during rain
    • ensuring that tanks adjacent to the compartment are empty
    • maintaining an adequate and approximate metacentric height to prevent excessive rolling
    • ensuring that bilges and wells are clean, empty and covered with burlap
    • obtaining weather routing information to avoid areas of adverse weather conditions during the passage.

Concentrates are particularly dangerous if loaded wet or if there is water ingress into the holds. Water ingress causes the cargo to shift which could lead to the vessel losing her stability and capsizing. Such cargoes should only be accepted for loading when the actual moisture content of the cargo is less than its transportable moisture limit (TML).

Prior to loading concentrates which may shift or liquefy, the Master should take the following precautions

Prior to the vessel’s arrival at the loading port, the Master should request from the shipper the following details about the cargo


If such information is not forthcoming in documented form, the Master should refuse to load the cargo and seek assistance from the Company.

Further precautions to be considered by the Master prior to loading are

The Master is also advised to consult the relevant authorities in the ports of loading and discharge and the flag State administration to ascertain whether any stricter safety regulations apply than those internationally accepted. Heating of cargo

  • Heating of cargo due to its properties
  • Heating of cargo stowed on or near fuel tanks

Some dry bulk cargoes are prone to heating. Prior to the commencement of loading operations, the Master should seek documents showing

If the Master is in any doubt as to the authenticity of the documents, he/she should request assistance from the Company.

If cargo prone to heating is to be loaded, certain precautions should be taken, such as

If direct reduced iron (DRI) in any form or cargoes with similar properties is to be loaded the Master need to obtain special instructions from the shipper and the Company for the loading and carriage of such a cargo.

For details please refer to

For details please refer to Gard News 176, Major cargo claims analysis – Dry bulk and unitised cargo.

When loading a dry bulk cargo the Master should agree the distribution of the cargo with the Chief Engineer to prevent the cargo heating or being damaged due to heating of bunker oil tanks below or adjacent to the cargo compartments. If, nevertheless, bunkers need to be heated, the calibrated temperature sensors will need constant monitoring. If possible, sheathing insulation should also be used.

Calibrated temperature monitoring recorder, steam heating lines and other equipment in the engine room need to be in proper working condition and need to be checked frequently. Draft survey

For further information please refer to

  • Gard News 176, Major cargo claims analysis – dry bulk and unitised cargo
  • Gard News 172, Draft surveys
  • Gard News 153, The importance of draft surveys in the defence of claims for shortage of bulk cargoes
  • Gard News 153, Dry cargo surveys from the Club’s perspective.

A draft survey should be undertaken prior to the commencement of loading of any bulk cargo to assess the proper light weight of the vessel, bunkers, fresh water and stores. This is necessary in order to compare the figures with those assessed during a draught survey after loading. It is advisable to arrange a draft survey of the vessel after loading a bulk cargo to assess the actual weight loaded, particularly when

  • the shipper’s weight figures differ from the weight assessed by the vessel
  • the shipper’s weight figures differ from the weight provided prior to loading.

The local correspondent will be able to assist the Master in arranging and instructing a competent surveyor. Cargo sampling dry bulk cargoes

For further details please refer to Gard News 153, Cargo sampling.

  • General
    • the safety of the vessel, i.e. to establish the properties of cargoes likely to shift
    • identifying vessel or cargo problems before and/or during loading and discharge, i.e. comparing shore with vessel figures and identifying any possible deterioration of the cargo or any malfunction of the vessel’s installations
    • the purpose of evidencing
  • Sampling procedures
    • applicable industry guidelines and/or procedures should be followed
    • safety precautions should be taken, which include
  • Sampling equipment

Cargo samples taken at load or discharge ports are important for

– the cargo’s condition at load or discharge port – bad or suspect outturn at the discharge port.

Sample taking should follow the Company’s written procedures.

When taking samples, the following points should be noted

Equipment (PPE)

Sampling equipment

  • should be appropriate and be compatible with the cargo to be sampled, and
  • only thoroughly cleaned equipment should be used.
  • Sufficient number and amounts
    • a number of samples taken at regular intervals and at different places within the cargo spaces or continually during loading/ discharging liquid cargoes
    • more than one set of tests may be required.
  • Labelling and sealing
    • must be properly labelled and sealed in the presence of the other interested parties
    • to be tested or retained, must be taken by ship’s personnel or their representatives in the presence of the other interested parties.
  • Retention of samples
    • careful consideration should be given to which samples should be retained and for how long
    • samples retained must be stored in a safe place where they cannot be tampered with
    • samples taken must be stored in a dark, well ventilated place away from heat and other sources likely to interfere with the sample.
  • Sample logs – protests – no tampering

Representative samples and sufficient sample amounts need to be taken


Retention and storage of samples

A sample log should be kept recording which samples are stored where for the purposes of identifying samples at a later stage for testing or for safe disposal.

Written protests should be lodged when the other interested parties refuse to attend joint sampling, labelling and sealing.

A surveyor or analyst should be engaged when in doubt.

Samples should never be tampered with to prevent jeopardising the reliability of the sample and allegations of fraud.

Safety and environmental aspects should be fully considered when disposing of samples.

If the Master is in doubt or difficulties arise during joint sampling operations between the vessel and the other party, the Master should request assistance from the local P&I correspondent.

For sampling bulk liquid cargoes, please see section Cargo samples.


liquid bulk cargoes


For further details please refer to

Claims in relation to the carriage and delivery of liquid or liquefied cargo may arise due to Preparations prior to loading

A. General

Due to the increased risks inherent in the carriage of liquid cargoes, the Master and crew must be aware of any regulatory and/or particular requirements in the charterparty regarding the carriage of the cargo to be loaded.

Prior to tendering notice of readiness and commencement of loading, the tanks should generally be clean, free from odour and any residues of previous cargoes carried and in all respects suitable for the next cargo to be loaded. For detailed guidance on the best cleaning methods, the Master and his/her officers should refer to

If loading or discharge operations involve ship to ship transfer at sea, it is strongly recommended that the same be carried out in accordance with the Ship to Ship Transfer Guide (OCIMF/ICS) or similar guidelines.

If the Master is requested by the shipper/charterer to carry out on board blending or commingling of cargoes, it is very important that approval to do so is sought from the shipowners before the commencement of any such operations.

B. Edible oils

When involved in the carriage of edible oils it is important to comply with applicable regulations laid down under national law, European Union or industry standards such as the requirements stipulated by The Federation of Oils, Seed and Fats Associations (FOSFA), The National Institute of Oilseeds Products (NIOP) or similar trading organisations.

Previous cargoes must be carefully checked against the List of

Acceptable Previous Cargoes and the List of Banned Immediate Previous Cargoes. Leaded petroleum or other leaded products shall not be carried as the three previous cargoes! When considering what the last immediate cargo was it should be noted that under FOSFA it is a requirement that the percentage of the last previous cargo in the tank to be loaded was not less then 60 per cent by volume of the tank.

Depending on the type of vessel the following items should among others be considered when planning a voyage • are the previous cargoes acceptable

  • health hazards/personal protection needed
  • inert gas requirements
  • cargo compatibility
  • tank coating suitability
  • heating/cooling requirements
  • special cargo handling requirements under
  • trim and draft restrictions at both load and discharge ports.
  • tank atmosphere
  • tank cleanliness/suitability for loading
  • pipes, including manifolds
  • if heating coils are to be used, these should be tested for leaks prior to loading
  • crude oil washing system/tank washing system
  • inert gas system, pressure/vacuum valves
  • cargo valves settings
  • packing and securing of all tank hatches
  • manifolds and packing
  • valves and gaskets
  • if more than one grade is to be loaded, all segregation valves should be tested and blind flanges inserted where possible. Consideration should also be given to the need for segregation of the vapour lines.


The Master is responsible for properly and carefully loading, handling, stowing, carrying, keeping, caring for and discharging the cargo. He/she, together with the Chief Officer must carefully study the cargo orders received and ensure that the cargo care procedures do not depart from the latter or content of those instructions. If there is any doubt as to whether the proposed loading meets the requirements of the cargo orders, clarification must be requested. Tank inspection prior to loading

A special check should be made of the tanks and the results recorded in the respective log or form under the SMS.

This may include

Precautions against hazards such as static electricity should be taken when handling static accumulating cargoes in a non-inert atmosphere. In particular, caution is required with regards to safe flow rate, ullaging, sampling and gauging procedures. For further details please see International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals (ISGOTT). The loading of liquid cargo

  • The loading conference or key meeting
  • Information to be obtained from the terminal
    • grade(s) and quantity of the cargo(es) to be loaded
    • cargo loading sequence
    • specific gravity of the cargo(es)
    • number of shore tanks to be loaded from and quantity, temperature and gravity of the cargo in each
    • material data sheet for each cargo, including all hazards associated with handling of and treatment for exposure, inhalation and ingestion of this material
    • if H2S cargo, the H2S concentration (ppm) by weight in oil
    • cargo loading rates
    • number of shore pumps to be used; will loading be started by pump or gravity flow
    • shore pipeline displacements planned before, between and after loading/grades
    • cargo loading stops required for shore tank changes or sampling and testing
    • number and sizes of hoses/arms to be used
    • operating envelope of the loading arms and any freeboard restrictions.
    • placing the shore terminal operator on standby• stopping the loading (while on standby)
    • emergency stop.
    • the required standby time is to be provided in advance of stopping the shore pumps
    • operation of emergency stop device (if provided)
    • emergency telephone numbers of terminal management personnel, local hospitals, police and fire services
    • work shift arrangement on the pier/dock.

Following completion of the pre-loading inspections of the vessel, the Master or Chief Officer should conduct a meeting with the vessel’s personnel involved in the loading operations and the terminal. The purpose is to communicate the fullest information necessary to the vessel and the shore terminal personnel for the safe conduct of the loading operations. The names and respective employers and clients of all personnel attending the loading conference should be recorded.

The vessel’s officers (Chief Officer) should obtain the following information from the shore terminal

Cargo information


The communication system and phrases/signals to be used for

Further essential information to be obtained and procedures to be agreed are

A copy of any particular facility regulations which must be observed by the vessel’s officers and crew, including

  • pollution prevention procedures and rules
  • procedures in the event of fire, explosion, injury, or other emergency.

Finally, the weather forecast should be obtained.

  • Information to be provided to the terminal
    • copy of the ballast discharge (if applicable and allowed as per national regulations) and cargo loading plans
    • information regarding the last cargo(es) carried and method of tank preparation used to prepare for the nominated cargo(es)
    • maximum acceptable loading rates for starting, routine loading and topping off tanks
    • maximum acceptable vapour pressures, temperatures and cargo manifold loading pressures
    • condition of inert gas plant and condition of inerted tanks; venting procedures to be used while loading
    • quantities of ballast or slops to be pumped ashore and contents of the slops
    • preferred sequence of loading (if multiple grade cargo)
    • procedures for changing grades of cargo
    • any tank washing/flushing to be performed
    • vessel’s contingency plan for responding to an oil pollution incident
    • procedure for authorising personnel from shore to proceed on board the vessel according to the SSP.
  • Loading plan and method of loading – operational agreementBased on the information obtained during the meeting with the terminal representative the Chief Officer should prepare a bar chart time diagram to illustrate the anticipated loading operation. He/she should review the time diagram with the Master and, after any necessary revisions, give a copy to the shore terminal and post a copy in the cargo control room (CCR).

The vessel’s officers (Chief Officer) should provide the terminal representative with the following information

For a checklist for ship-terminal communications while loading, please refer to Annexes 3.1 and 3.2.

The time diagram indicates graphically the sequence and timing of the various steps of the loading operation and provides an indication of the time when the operations should be completed.

The declaration of inspection, exchange of information and the loading plan together constitute an operational agreement for the loading of the vessel. This agreement is complete when and only when the person in charge of the shore terminal and the person in charge of the vessel have both signed the declaration of inspection.

147 Cargo samples

A. General

Cargo samples should be drawn at regular intervals during loading, preferably jointly in the presence of a representative of the shipper or terminal as follows

The samples should be labelled, indicating where, when and by whom the samples were drawn. All samples taken must be sealed and kept in a designated place on board or delivered to appropriate storage facilities ashore. It is recommended that all samples are retained for at least one year after completion of discharge.

Samples are extremely important in the event cargo interests bring a claim against the Company regarding the condition of the cargo. As the vessel’s responsibilities for the cargo normally starts and ends at vessel’s manifold, samples drawn as referred to above will be very useful in establishing the cargo’s condition throughout the voyage.

Manifold and first foot samples should immediately be checked visually for any foreign particles, water and colour. If there is any suspicion that the sample might be off specification, the terminal should be advised accordingly and loading operations should be stopped for further investigations.

For general principles of sampling, please see also section Cargo sampling – dry bulk cargoes.

  • Prepared samples
  • Request for signing cargo samples

The Master should never accept samples of the cargo which are already sealed and labelled as they might not be samples of the cargo actually loaded.

The Master should never sign any receipt for a cargo sample unless he/she knows the details on the label to be accurate. Cargo quantity and signing bills of lading

After completion of loading, ullage and temperature measurements should be carefully taken to accurately calculate the loaded quantity. For advice regarding the issue of the bills of lading, please see section 2.11.4 Signing bills of lading. The local correspondent should be contacted for assistance if in any doubt.

The bills of lading presented for signature will usually be evidence of the quantity of cargo loaded and it is important therefore to deduct from the vessel’s ullage figures any “On-board-quantity” (OBQ) and any free water loaded with the cargo. The discharge of liquid cargo

Following completion of the pre-transfer inspections of the vessel, the Master or the Chief Officer should conduct a meeting with the vessel’s personnel involved in the loading operations and the terminal representatives. The purpose is to communicate the fullest information necessary to enable the vessel and the shore terminal personnel to conduct the discharge operations safely. The names and respective employers and clients of all personnel attending the pre-transfer conference should be recorded.


  • Information to be obtained from the terminal
    • shore cargo system information, including the
    • number and sizes of hoses/arms to be used
    • operating envelope of the loading arms and any freeboard restrictions imposed.
    • advising the ship/shore person in charge of the need to standby
    • stopping the transfer (while on standby)
    • emergency stop
    • other emergencies, such as spill, fire, electrical storm, mooring failure etc.
    • emergency telephone numbers of terminal management personnel, local hospitals, police and fire services
    • a copy of any particular facility regulations and local rules which must be observed by the vessel
    • estimated time the shore terminal will be ready to receive cargo
    • shore berth manning and shift arrangements.
  • Information to be provided to the terminal
    • copy of the stowage plan indicating cargo distribution within the vessel
    • copy of the cargo discharge, COW and ballasting plans
    • information regarding the last cargo(es) carried and method of tank preparation used to prepare for the current cargo(es)
    • maximum discharge rates anticipated for starting routine discharging and stripping tanks
    • operation of the inert gas generator system
    • material safety data sheet for the cargo(es) on board
    • proposed sequence of discharging (if multiple grades of cargo)
    • procedure for changing grades of cargo
    • any tank washing/flushing to be performed
    • vessel’s contingency plan or vessel response plan for responding to an oil pollution incident
    • bunkering and storing operations anticipated
    • crew watch manning and shift arrangements; crew changes to be conducted (if permitted)
    • vessel repairs to be completed while alongside (if permitted).
  • Revised discharging plan

The vessel’s officers (Chief Officer) should obtain the following information from the shore terminal

The communication system to be used and phrases/signals to be used for

Further essential information to be obtained and procedures to be agreed are

The vessel’s officers (Chief Officer) should provide the terminal representative with the following information

With multi-grade cargoes, a clear agreement must be reached as to the procedures to be employed to avoid cargo contamination. These procedures must be included in the Chief Officer’s cargo orders or night orders.

For a checklist for ship-terminal communications while discharging, please refer to Annexes 3.3 and 3.4.


Based on the information obtained during the meeting with the terminal representative(s) the Chief Officer may amend his/her bar chart, time diagram of the discharge, COW and ballast water operations (if permitted under national regulations). He/she should review the time diagram with the Master and, after any necessary revisions, provide a copy to the shore terminal and post a copy in the CCR.

2.12.4 containers

For further details please refer to

  • Gard Booklet Container transport – a compilation of Gard container related articles
  • Gard News 179, P&I incident – Dangerous goods container overboard
  • Gard News 173, Improper lashing and securing of cargo
  • Gard News 171, Container stack collapse – overweight and unfit containers
  • Gard News 159, Containers on non-cellular vessels
  • Gard News 151, Container types and problems.
  • during rough loading or discharging
  • due to inadequate stowage, securing or lashing of cargo inside the containers. General

Whilst cargo stowed in containers appears less vulnerable to damage by external elements whilst on board the vessel, the containers themselves may cause damage to the vessel and the cargo holds Condition of containers

If containers are not properly maintained, they are likely to damage their contents. Whilst it is difficult, if not impossible, for the Master or his/her officers to check whether the doors of the container are watertight or if holes in the roof allow water to penetrate, close observation of cargo operations during loading of containers may give some useful indications.

Containers with apparently neglected exteriors should be closely inspected. This is particularly relevant to tank containers, as even tiny holes, defective valves or gaskets allow the liquid contents, often of a hazardous nature, to escape and create a dangerous air mixture. This can cause personal injury by contact, inhalation or cause an explosive air mixture. If an inspection raises any doubts as to the safety of the container, it should not be loaded and the loading superintendent/foreman and the Company should be notified. Seals and doors

Loss of containerised cargo often occurs ashore prior to loading. The methods of theft are becoming more sophisticated and traces of unlawful opening of containers are very difficult to discover. In addition, there is a growing concern that containerised cargoes can pose a security risk where either the terrorists themselves or weapons of mass destruction can be transported.

The speed with which containers are loaded onto a vessel makes it difficult to check whether

  • the seals are intact
  • the seal numbers concur with the numbers listed in the cargo documents.

The Master should satisfy himself that the Company has in place a procedure for checking the container seals in compliance with the SSP. Any irregularities should be notified immediately to the stevedores or terminal operators responsible for the loading, as well as the vessel’s agent and the Company. Seals should likewise be checked at discharge to evidence that they have remained intact whilst on the vessel.


When broken seals are discovered and replaced by the crew, a record should be made in the log book and the bill of lading together with the relevant seal numbers, and any relevant authorities should be notified in compliance with the SSP. Empty containers designated as empty should also be verified to be empty in compliance with the SSP.

On checking individual containers, whether ashore or on board, the crew should be instructed to look for defective or loose bolts on hinges and seal brackets and to identify any signs of interference. Any such observations must be reported immediately to the responsible officer so that appropriate action can be taken, such as a closer inspection or rejection of the container. IMDG labels

The International Marine Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code came into force on 1st January 2004. The Master and his/her officers are therefore advised to load cargoes classified by the IMDG Code in strict conformity with the requirements of the Code.

During loading, particular attention should be given to IMDG labels identifying dangerous goods. The labels on these containers should correspond to the descriptions in the dangerous goods manifest and dangerous cargo stowage or bay plan. Storage of these containers should always be in accordance with the dangerous goods stowage plan. If discrepancies are noted, the Master should ensure that the container is reloaded in the correct stowage position as planned. Flat racks

If flat racks are loaded, the Master should ensure that the cargo on these units is properly lashed, secured and protected against external elements. This includes locating a suitable stowage position to avoid damage by the impact of waves. If the Master is in any doubt as to whether the cargo on the flat racks is sufficiently lashed, he/she should call the Company to arrange for a surveyor to attend and check the securing of the cargo on the flat racks. Tarpaulins, if in use, should be tight and not torn and need to be checked and adjusted at regular intervals during the voyage. These checks should be recorded. Container weight and stability

The weight of containers is sometimes not properly checked ashore or the tare weight has been disregarded which will affect the vessel’s stability. The maximum container stack or tier weight may also be affected. If in any doubt the Master is advised to

  • carry out his/her own stability tests
  • re-check the vessel’s stability calculations
  • demand clarification from ashore
  • unload and re-weigh the suspect containers. Lashing and securing of deck containers

After loading containers on deck, particular attention should be paid to proper lashing. Only approved lashing materials of suitable strength and quality should be used in accordance with the vessel’s approved container lashing plan and the Cargo Securing Manual as approved by the flag State administration.

Mixing different securing devices such as left and right handed twist locks and sockets, should be avoided.

During the voyage, the container securing arrangements should be checked regularly and tightened where necessary and such checks should be entered in the logbook or the relevant ship’s forms. Unrestricted bridge visibility

When loading a large number of containers on deck, attention should be given to ensuring unrestricted bridge visibility.

Mandatory regulations require that the sea surface 500 metres


forward of the bow must be visible from the bridge. If the Master is of the opinion that visibility may be impaired, he/she should request a restow of the containers. Special stowage instructions

Although the stow is generally planned ashore, the Master and his/ her officers should ensure that special stowage instructions from the shipper to avoid exposing the cargo to high temperatures are met. Containers with high value contents – if known – should be stowed under deck.

If containers are to be loaded on vessels not purpose built for their carriage, the vessel’s individual Cargo Securing Manual must be referred to.

2.12.5 General cargoes

For further details please refer to Gard News 175, Major cargo claims analysis. General

The most likely types of damage to exposed general cargo are

  • pre-shipment damage due to rough handling or unprotected storage ashore
  • physical damage due to rough handling during loading or discharging
  • physical damage due to inappropriate stowage and/or insufficient lashing or securing
  • wet damage before, during loading and during the voyage due to defective hatch covers and gaskets
  • heating damage due to insufficient storage ashore with resulting excessive
  • temperatures during loading
  • fat content prior to loading
  • heating damage due to storage of cargo on heated tanks.
  • during loading and discharge by

Bagged cargo is likely to suffer damage

  • handling with hooks
  • contamination by foreign matter
  • moisture from rain or snowfall
  • high moisture content of the air in the cargo hold
  • use of stained, wet or contaminated dunnage

• during the voyage by

  • inadequate stowage and/or insufficient lashing or securing causing a shift or collapse of the stow
  • tainting
  • infestation
  • wetting either due to defective hatch covers and gaskets or vessel’s internal leaks
  • moisture from the ship or cargo sweat due to improper/ insufficient ventilation.

If bagged cargo becomes mouldy due to moisture ingress, some countries may deny discharge of the entire cargo and reject the same due to health and sanitary fears. Huge cargo claims may arise for non-delivery and the disposal of the rejected cargo incurs considerable costs.

All these types of damage are likely to result in claims by cargo interests against the Company and, subsequently, the P&I insurer.

Claims for shortage of bagged cargo are likely to be the result of improper and/or inaccurate tallies as well as pilferage.

Heavy items of cargo may shift during the voyage if not properly lashed, chocked or otherwise secured.

17 Condition prior to shipment

The Master should carefully note the condition of the cargo prior to loading

  • if possible an inspection of the cargo to be loaded should be carried out whilst the cargo is still ashore
  • attention should be paid to the storage place ashore. It may be that the cargo has been exposed to rain or snow or affected by foreign matter during storage
  • random samples of bagged cargo may reveal the actual condition of the cargo. For cargo samples to be taken please see section Cargo sampling – dry bulk cargoes.

Any apparently defective cargo or cargo affected by external elements such as moisture, rust or foreign matter should be rejected and be replaced by sound cargo. Mate’s receipts and bills of lading may otherwise need to be claused – please see section 2.11.4 Signing bills of lading – letters of indemnity.

If the Master is in doubt about the condition of the cargo, the local P&I correspondent should be asked to assist. Damaged cargo

For further details please refer to Gard News 180, When can a master refuse to load damaged cargo?

If cargo damage is noted after the cargo has been loaded into the vessel’s holds, the Master should try to

  • unload the cargo
  • obtain replacement cargo from the shippers.
  • taking photographs • taking witness statements.
  • interrupt loading of the cargo
  • advise the stevedore company accordingly – verbally and in writing
  • ask for the damage to be put right
  • obtain a written acknowledgement of the damage caused.

If this cannot be achieved, the Master should collect as much evidence as possible by

If the Master is in any doubt, the local P&I correspondent should be called to assist

This principle applies to all cargoes which are loaded and which appear unsound, damaged or incomplete! Damage caused by stevedores

In instances of apparent rough or unsafe handling by stevedores, the Master should

The written acknowledgement from the stevedore company should be obtained on, for example, the stevedore damage form. Evidence should also be collected as to how the damage occurred.

The Hull and Machinery cover may be affected if there is structural damage to the vessel. If the stevedore company does not carry out repairs, the Master is advised to call in the Hull and Machinery insurer’s local correspondents to assist and to survey the damage.

When cargo is damaged by stevedores prior to loading, the bills of lading may need to be claused – please see section 2.11.4 Bills of lading.

19 Photographic and video evidence

Photographs or video should ideally be taken of both the loading and stowage operations. This will provide evidence of proper loading and stowage to defend any claim from cargo interests. Photographs and video must be properly marked and labelled with details of the location, date and time taken. Digital photographs must not be interfered with or be the subject of any processing, and, if possible, be stored on a separate clearly marked disc. No loading during rain or snow

It is self-evident that loading should not take place during rain or snowfall. When rain or snowfall is expected, it will assist to keep a radar watch to enable the hatches to be closed in time. When loading in areas where sudden heavy rain rainfalls or showers can be expected (monsoon), only those hatch covers which are actually needed should be opened. If the Master is urged to continue loading during rain or snowfall, he/she should refuse, even if offered a “rain” letter of indemnity by the shippers or charterers. If in doubt, the Master should request the attendance of the local correspondent. Separation – marking of cargo

If the shipper or charterer requires separation of the cargo by, for example, paint marks, the Master should ensure that this does not cause any harm to the cargo which may give rise to claims against the Company and ultimately their P&I insurer. Dunnage, lashing and separation material

For further details please refer to Gard News 173, Improper lashing and securing of cargo.

If dunnage is used, the Master should ensure that only dry clean wood, free from odour, is used to avoid damaging the cargo. Some dunnage provided to the vessel may need to be treated prior to being used due to health and sanitary provisions in some countries. In certain countries the Master is advised to make enquiries before accepting any dunnage. If the dunnage delivered raises any doubts as to its suitability, the Master may consider asking for a certificate from the charterers as to the quality and moisture content of the dunnage.

If bagged cargo is to be loaded and dunnage is used, it may be advisable to use kraft paper, although kraft paper alone is often not sufficient; please refer to Gard News 174, The carriage of bagged rice from the Far East to West Africa.

If the cargo needs to be lashed or separated, suitable and sufficient lashing and separation material should be provided unless the charterparty provides that this is the obligation of the charterer. The

Master should ensure that

  • the cargo is loaded, stowed and lashed in such a manner that it can be carried without being damaged and without causing
  • the lashing is in accordance with the vessel’s Cargo Securing Manual as approved by the flag State administration.
  • skilled and highly experienced personnel
  • sophisticated equipment• specially designed vessels.
  • a written loading plan
  • detailed stability calculations
  • detailed drawings of lifting points and loading gear intended to be used
  • lashing arrangements with lashing points indicated
  • a feasibility study on the loading process from charterers and cargo interests.

damage to other cargo – please see comment in section Damaged cargo

Failure to carry out any of the above precautions may result in cargo damage, which could give rise to a claim being presented by the cargo interests against the Company and the P&I insurer.


Heavy lift cargoes


The carriage of heavy lift cargoes is a specialist operation for which the following is required

Every cargo operation on a heavy lift vessel is a specialist operation for which Critical Shipboard Operation Procedures should be in place under the Company’s SMS.

161 Loading, stowage and lashing plans

If loading is carried out by shore personnel the Master should, prior to commencement of the loading operations, insist upon being provided with

The Master should not hesitate to query the plans and ask for clarification prior to the commencement of loading or discharging. Loading gear and tackle

Utmost care should be exercised when preparing the vessel’s gear and tackle for the loading and discharging operations. The general tackle must be sufficient in strength, dimension and quality. This is often calculated in advance by specialists attending to the cargo operations.

The Master should ensure that the working history of the vessel’s loading gear and tackle can be traced in records to give a clear picture of any fatigue present. Any gear or tackle showing signs of fatigue, defects or chafing should be removed from use immediately.

If tackle is supplied from ashore the Master should ensure that it is suitable and strong enough for the job. He/she should check

  • the condition of the material intended to be used
  • the tackle’s test certificates which should have been issued by recognised organisations. Co-operation during cargo operations

Close contact, mutual confidence and trust are required between shipboard and shorebased personnel during cargo operations. Failure of a single loading device may result in the loading gear collapsing or the heavy lift cargo falling with the risk of fatal or serious personal injury.

If personnel from ashore is unable to communicate properly, the Master should insist on their replacement.

Close co-operation and exchange of information between all personnel involved, including engine room personnel is essential when ballast operations are required to maintain the vessel’s stability. Properly functioning communication equipment is essential as well as commands given in a clear language.

Wind and swell conditions need to be considered, especially if loading on the roads.

Prior to loading, the strength of the securing points on the lift and the centre of gravity on the lift need to be verified. Completion of loading – lashing survey

Upon completion of loading, careful lashing based on a calculated lashing plan must be carried out. If a lashing plan is not provided from ashore prior to loading, the Master should ask the Company to instruct a competent expert experienced in the loading and lashing of heavy lift cargoes to prepare a lashing plan for a safe passage.

A lashing survey

  • ensures a safe passage
  • provides evidence against possible cargo claims
  • indicates that the utmost care was used in the preparation for the voyage.


2.12.7 on-deck cargoes

For details please refer to Gard News 173, Improper lashing and securing of cargo. General

Whilst the normal place for stowage of cargo on non-container vessels is in the holds, the vessel may nevertheless be required to carry cargo on deck. Such cargo may be voluminous, heavy lift cargo or dangerous goods classified under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code.

If any cargo is intended to be carried on deck the Master should ascertain that

  • deck stowage is permitted by the shipper
  • the particular cargo is suitable for carriage on deck
  • the vessel is properly equipped to carry the cargo on deck
  • the deck and/or hatch covers are strong enough
  • it is customary to carry the cargo on deck
  • the bill of lading will be appropriately claused to reflect carriage on deck and to exempt the Company from liability for damage/loss. Clausing bills of lading

If cargo is carried on deck without the shipper’s authorisation and/ or without proper clausing of the bill of lading, the Company will be exposed to greater liability in the event of damage/loss to such cargo. This liability may not be covered by the P&I insurer and it may therefore be necessary for the Company to take out additional insurance and the Master need therefore to advise the Company. Lashing and securing

Deck cargo is liable to shift resulting in damage to the cargo – often a total loss – and/or to the vessel. This may endanger the safety of the vessel and crew. Deck cargo should therefore be sufficiently lashed using approved and certified lashing material only and secured in accordance with the Cargo Securing Manual as approved by the flag State administration. Timber deck cargoes

The weight of some types of deck cargoes may be different from that shown in the cargo documents, e.g. timber deck cargoes. This may seriously affect the stability of the vessel. The Master is therefore advised to carefully check the weight of timber deck cargoes during loading by observing the vessel’s draught and also by performing rolling tests from time to time to ensure that the weight conforms with the details given. When timber deck cargoes are to be loaded, the Master is advised to refer to the IMO Code of Safe Practice for Ships carrying Timber Deck Cargoes (Res. A.715(17)).

Stanchions used for the carriage of timber deck cargoes require special attention and checks prior to loading to ensure that neither the stanchions nor the adjacent area shows any defects such as cracks etc., in which case the Master should call in the local P&I correspondent to assist.

2.12.8 reefer cargo and reefer containers

For further details please refer to Gard News 177, Major cargo claims analysis – Liquid bulk, reefer unitised and containerised carriage. General

The main problem in the carriage of refrigerated goods is their end use. Such goods are generally destined for human consumption. Most countries have strict health and sanitary provisions prohibiting damaged cargo from being imported. The consequences of contaminated cargo can be disastrous as it may not only be very difficult to dispose of the cargo, but also very costly both for the Company and the P&I insurer.


Whilst the problems involved in the carriage of reefer cargo and cargo in reefer containers are numerous, the main causes of damage are

  • malfunction of the reefer machinery
  • deviation from the required cooling temperature• improper stowage preventing proper air circulation.
  • premature ripening of fruit, or
  • thawing damage to meat and fish products.
  • query the instructions in writing
  • ask for specific confirmation that they are correct.

The consequential damage is Reefer instructions from shippers

The Master should obtain written instructions from the shipper prior to loading refrigerated cargo, in respect of any pre-cooling of the holds and the carrying temperature of the cargo. The Master should not, however, accept carriage instructions that the vessel will not be able to comply with. Should the Master have any doubt about the instructions, he/she should

This is very important as even the slightest variation in the carrying temperature may result in a substantial claim. If in any doubt, the local P&I correspondent should be called in to assist. Refrigeration machinery and reefer compartments

The Master should obtain a certificate from a class surveyor or other competent expert prior to loading refrigerated cargo, confirming the condition and suitability of the refrigeration machinery and reefer compartments for the carriage of the specific cargo in question. Reefer containers

When containers with refrigeration units are to be loaded, the

Master should, together with the engineer responsible, ensure that

the vessel’s electricity output is sufficient for the supply of power during the entire voyage. To prevent a power failure occurring or insufficient power supply being available, attention should be paid when additional power will be required

  • on entering and leaving port using the bow thruster
  • during cargo operations in port, using the vessel’s cargo gear.
  • all reefer containers are properly connected to the vessel’s power sockets
  • a daily check on the temperatures of the reefer containers is carried out if so required by the Company or the charterer to prevent damage to the cargo by insufficient cooling
  • a daily written record is kept and retained for at least two years.

The Master should ensure that

If the voyage is delayed whilst carrying reefer containers, the Master should seek instructions from the shipper via the Company.

2.12.9 ro-ro cargo

Whilst it is acknowledged that operators of ro-ro cargo vessels have their own standards and practices in place, some general advice is nevertheless provided in this publication. General

The main hazards and causes of damage in the operation of ro–ro cargo vessels are

  • instability of the vessel due to uneven distribution of the load
  • insufficient lashing and securing of cargo on rolling stock
  • insufficient lashing and securing of rolling stock and trailers on board the vessel
  • wrongly declared or undeclared dangerous cargo loaded on trailers
  • negligent closing of watertight doors and ramps. Negligent declaration of dangerous cargo

Although the IMDG Code is mandatory, there is still considerable lack of knowledge and training, resulting into dangerous cargo being improperly declared. The chemical reaction of two dangerous cargoes can have catastrophic results.

If there is any discrepancy between the cargo documents and the cargo on the trailers, a closer inspection should be made, followed by a possible rejection of incorrectly declared cargo. Checking of cargo to be loaded

Despite the hectic operation of loading and discharging rolling stock, the Master should ensure that his/her officers are in control and are carefully checking and monitoring the operation. This should include checking

  • the marks, numbers and road signs on the trucks and trailers
  • the cargo on the trailers, as far as accessible, visible and possible
  • the labels on any dangerous goods being loaded
  • the general impression of the rolling stock being loaded
  • whether the information obtained corresponds with the loading lists.
  • cargo pressing against the tarpaulin
  • cargo having shifted during loading• the trailer listing, the trailer should be rejected if no inspection of the cargo can be carried out.
  • cargo being insufficiently lashed onto the trailers
  • the cargo’s centre of gravity may be above the centre of the trailer, allowing the cargo to shift in adverse weather conditions.

Should any irregularities be noted, the Master should not hesitate to interrupt loading pending clarification. Trailers

It is often difficult, if not impossible, for the Master and his/her officers to check whether the cargo is properly lashed within the trailers being loaded. Furthermore, the centre of gravity of a trailer cannot be checked due to the speed of loading and the fact that the cargo is covered by tarpaulins and sealed by customs.

If there is any indication of Uneven distribution of weights – negligent lashing of cargo There may be an uneven distribution of cargo weight on the vessel if no proper scales are available prior to the trucks and trailers coming on board. Furthermore, lack of knowledge ashore of the forces experienced by a vessel at sea may result in

Lashing points on trailers may be too weak and the lashing material used inadequate. If any irregularities are noted the Master and the vessel’s officers should reject the cargo until it has been properly lashed or the deficiencies rectified. Negligent lashing on board the vessel

Even the shortest voyage at sea may involve the greatest hazards to the safety of the vessel, crew, drivers and the cargo carried. Time pressures in this tightly scheduled trade may lead to trailers and cargo being improperly or insufficiently lashed, which can lead to cargo shifting during sudden violent movements of the vessel. A sudden alteration in course may cause considerable heeling of the vessel, exposing rolling stock and cargo on trailers to significant danger.

To prevent accidents caused by the shifting of cargo or rolling stock, it is most important that proper lashing and securing devices are used. Due consideration must be given to the strength of the securing points and the lashings. The Master and his/her officers should refer to the

  • IMO MSC Circular 812, Amendments to the Guidelines for
  • Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (IMO Resolution A.714(17)).

Securing Arrangements for the Transport of Road Vehicles on

Ro-ro ships (IMO Resolution A.581(14)), and the

The vessel’s Cargo Securing Manual should also be consulted to ensure that the lashings are of an appropriate size, strength and material.

If poor weather causes the vessel to roll the use of stabilisers should be considered. Improper securing of doors and ramps

The most dangerous cause of accidents on a ro-ro vessel is the improper securing of watertight doors and ramps, allowing water to ingress the car deck impairing the stability of the vessel.

Although there are strict international, including European, mandatory regulations on the safety of ro-ro vessels, it cannot be emphasised enough that

  • all watertight doors and ramps must always be properly secured prior to departure
  • all gaskets, locking devices, hinges, clamps etc., must be maintained in first-class working order and safe condition.

It should be emphasised that trucks contain fuel as does some cargo on trailers. If fires start, they will quickly get out of control. The fixed fire fighting installations must therefore be in a perfect condition and the crew constantly drilled to enable them to respond effectively.

2.12.10 Steel cargoes

For details please refer to

  • Gard News 153, Steel pre-shipment surveys
  • Gard compilation: The carriage of steel.
  • during loading• during the carriage
  • during discharge.
  • wetting resulting in rust
  • physical damage
  • contamination with foreign matter. General

Steel cargoes, although solid in appearance, require special attention and care • prior to loading

Steel is especially vulnerable to Steel pre-shipment and outturn surveys

Due to the vulnerability and value of steel cargoes, Gard recommends that surveyors are appointed to perform the cargo inspection, to advise on the safe stowage, lashing and securing of the cargo and furthermore, to assist the Master in clausing the bills of lading where appropriate.

It is also advisable to perform an outturn survey which should ideally commence at the opening of the hatch covers to evidence any sea water ingress or shifting of the stow having occurred during the voyage.

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