CARRIAGE OF BAGGED CARGOES : SOME POINTS TO REMEMBER

Published: December 1, 2013

The carriage of bagged cargoes requires additional care to be exercised by the crew throughout all stages of the voyage in order to reduce the risk of claims relating to the condition and/or quantity of the cargo.  The precautionary steps outlined in this article serve as a reminder of good practice on board with an emphasis on the importance of preservation of documentary evidence.

PRIOR TO LOADING

Check that the holds are cleaned, the bilge sounding pipes and hold piping such as ballast pipes, scupper pipes and tank air pipes are in good condition and that all bilge wells are clear. The pumping of all the hold bilges must be tested and bilge lids should be covered with burlaps.  Hatch covers should be inspected as well as the hold ventilation shafts and flaps. Tank top manholes should also be checked and be securely shut.  Ensure that entries are made in the Sounding Book at least twice a day for bilge soundings, ballast tank soundings, fresh water tank soundings, cofferdam soundings etc. Deck Log Book entries should clearly indicate when the all these inspections, checks and tests were conducted.

AT THE LOAD AND DISCHARGE PORTS

In order to protect the ship’s interests it is prudent to appoint a surveyor to perform a protective tally and condition survey.  If surveyors are instructed by other parties, the identity and the party for which each surveyor is acting should be established by receipt of a copy of each surveyor’s letter of appointment as soon as the surveyor arrives on board.  The ship’s surveyor should accompany and supervise all the attending surveyors at all times. Photographs should be taken by the crew of the holds prior to the commencement of loading, of the ventilation channels and also of the stow throughout the duration of loading operations.  Photographic evidence should also be obtained of the holds and the condition of the cargo during discharge.

It is good practice to issue Letters of Protest when events occur that could expose the ship to liability such as when unsuitable or inadequate dunnage is provided by the Charterer, wet cargo is presented for loading, cargo is damaged by stevedores using hooks and/or there is theft and pilferage of the cargo or excessive cargo spillage occurs from ripped bags.  If the bagged cargo is being loaded from barges, check the condition of the bags as well as the cargo’s moisture content before accepting any parcels for loading.

Mates Receipts should be claused to reflect the condition and quantity of the cargo and Bills of Lading should be issued in strict conformity with the Mate’s Receipts.  Ensure that the Master understands the charterers fumigation and carriage instructions.  Copies of all the documents that the Master has signed at the load port should be retained.

The cargo’s Certificate of Quality should be obtained and the cargo’s moisture and/or temperature should be checked throughout loading in order to ensure that the cargo presented for loading is in conformity with the Certificate of Quality and/or the shipper’s moisture declaration.  Wet and damaged cargo should be rejected.

Finally, ensure that adequate ventilation channels are constructed into each stow, that the hatch covers are inspected and that hatch cover mechanisms work efficiently. Insert a description of the checks carried out and the outcome of the checks in the Deck Log Book. Arrange for an adequate number of crew members to be on standby in the event of rain to close the hatches.  Initial and final draft surveys should also be conducted.

DURING THE VOYAGE

Maintain ventilation logs which include the temperature of both wet and dry bulk,  inside and outside of each hold and the dew points, plus the sea water temperature, preferably at 4 hour intervals.  Maintain a tank and bilge sounding record, noting times when the bilges were pumped.  Record in the Deck Log Book if there were any problems encountered during the voyage and, if so, prepare a suitable sea protest for notarization on arrival at the discharge port.

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