BLU Code including BLU Manual:
The Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers (BLU Code) was developed with the aim of preventing accidents or loss of ships carrying solid bulk cargoes as a result of improper loading and unloading practices. The Code was adopted by the Assembly in November 1997 by resolution A.862(20).
The BLU Code provides guidance to ship masters of bulk carriers, terminal operators and other parties concerned for the safe handling, loading and unloading of solid bulk cargoes and is linked to regulation VI/7 (Loading, unloading and stowage of bulk cargoes) of the 1974 SOLAS Convention, as amended by resolution MSC.47(66). Further amendments to the BLU Code were adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee by resolutions MSC.238(82) and MSC.304(87).
The provisions of the Code should be applied with due regard to the provisions of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code), where applicable.
The Maritime Safety Committee, at its eightieth session (May 2005), approved the Manual on loading and unloading of solid bulk cargoes for terminal representatives (BLU Manual) and agreed that the application of the guidance contained therein would address the concerns on risk control options and urged Member Governments, shipowners, ship operators and terminals to apply the guidance contained therein. Amendments to the BLU Manual were approved by the Maritime Safety Committee at its eighty-seventh session, which can be found in MSC.1/Circ.1356.
BLU Code: Procedures between Ship & Terminal prior to Cargo Handling:
- The Master is responsible at all times for Safe Loading & unloading of the ship, the details of which should be communicated to the terminal representative in the form of Loading/ Unloading Plan.
- Ensure the Ship Shore Safety Checklist in Appendix 3 is completed in consultation with the terminal before Loading or Unloading is commenced.
- Ensure that the disposition of cargo and ballast water is monitored throughout the loading or unloading process to ensure that the ship’s structure is not overstressed.
- Ensure that the terminal representative is made aware of the requirements for harmonization between deballasting & cargo loading rates for the ship concerned.
- The quantities of cargo required to achieve departure draft & trim should allow for all cargo on the terminals conveyor system to be run off and empty on completion of loading.
- Communication arrangements between ship & terminal should be capable of responding to request of information on the loading process and of prompt compliance in the event of emergency stop.
Cargo loading & Handling of Ballast:
- The Cargo Loading plan must be agreed between the master & the terminal representative should confirm the method of cargo operation so as to ensure no excessive stresses on the hull, tank top & associated structures.
- The terminal representative should alert the Master, when the cargo is heavy or when the individual grab loads are large, that there may be high localised impact loads on the ship’s structure until the tank top is completely covered by cargo, especially when free – fall drops are permitted. As such impact have the potential of causing structural damage, special care should be taken at the start of loading operation in each cargo hold.
- Any requirements for cargo trimming should be in accordance with the procedures prescribed in the IMSBC Code.
- In order to effectively monitor the progress of the cargo loading operation, it is essential for both Master & terminal representative to have readily accessible information on total quantity loaded as well as quantities per load.
- On completion of loading, the master and terminal representative should agree in writing that the ship has been loaded in accordance with loading plan, including any agreed variations.
- The Master should advise the terminal representative of any deviation from the deballasting plan or any other matter which may affect cargo loading.
- The ship should be kept upright at all times or if a list is required for operational reasons, it should be kept as small as possible.