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Cargo Related Documents Carried on Bulk Carrier

Below is the list with short description of all the possible certificates and documents which are related to cargo expected to be carried in a bulk carrier:-

1. Hold inspection certificate: The hold or hatch inspection certificate, or preloading survey certificate, is issued by a surveyor after inspecting the holds to ensure that they are suitable for the intended cargo.

A preloading survey is required when the local authorities at the loading port or the shipper demand it or when it is a charterparty requirement. When a survey is required, loading cannot commence in a hold until the surveyor has passed it. Often the vessel cannot present notice of readiness until the hold inspection certificate has been issued. If any holds fail the survey, a vessel on time charter may be placed off hire and a vessel on voyage charter may fail to start time running against charterers until such time as the holds have been resurveyed and passed, although it may be possible to have some holds passed so that the vessel can submit a valid notice of readiness and/or commence to load in suitable holds.

The surveyor will provide the hold inspection certificate for whoever instructs him, but a copy will normally be given to the Master. The Master has no powers, except the power of reason, to require the surveyor to alter a negative conclusion. But if the Master considers that the surveyor’s conclusions are unreasonable and if the consequences are likely to be costly, the Master can set out his views in writing in a letter of protest or he can obtain services of another surveyor, perhaps with the help of the ship’s P&I club. A second surveyor cannot overrule the first, but can provide evidence of the facts for use in a dispute.

2. Mate’s receipt: A mate’s receipt is usually a printed form, often with handwritten entries which acknowledges on behalf of the ship the receipt of the goods. It is evidence that the goods specified in it have been delivered to and received by the ship (It is signed by chief officer of the receiving ship). Usually the person to whom the mate’s receipt is given is the person entitled to a bill of lading in exchange for the return of the mate’s receipt. 

When any damaged or deficient cargo is delivered to the ship it should immediately be brought to the attention of the shippers or their agents so that it can be removed and undamaged cargo supplied in its place. This requirement should be confirmed in writing to provide a record in the event of a dispute. Alternatively, clausing (qualifying words) can be inserted to describe the condition of the goods at the time of delivery. As it is a common requirement that bills of lading should be issued in accordance with mate’s receipts, if damaged cargo is not removed it will be necessary to clause the mate’s receipt which will then lead to clausing of the bill of lading.

3. Authorization to sign Bills of Lading: Under the terms of many time and voyage charterparties the owners transfer the authority to sign bills of lading to the charterers or their agent, thereby cancelling the authority normally held by the Master. In any case in which the agent will be signing bills of lading on behalf of the Master, the master should ensure that the agent receives appropriate instructions in the form of authorization. The wording of any such authorization is often dictated by owners or charterers voyage instructions.

4. Bills of Lading: A bill of lading may perform three functions. (A)It is usually very good evidence of the terms of the contract for the receipt, carriage and delivery of the cargo.(B)It is often a negotiable document of title to goods carried, providing evidence of ownership of the cargo, and(C)it acts as a receipt of cargo loaded aboard the vessel.

5. Phytosanitary Certificate:  This certificate may be required during the carriage of plant or plant products like, grain, seeds and fruits. Phytosanitary certificates are issued by inspectors in the exporting country to certify the requirement of the plant health regulations of the importing country has been met.

6. Certificate of compliance with exemptions to trade sanctions: When trade sanctions have been imposed on a country, it may still be allowed to import certain commodities such as food and medicines. Ships carrying such exempted cargoes are required to produce a certificate of compliance to the authorities enforcing the sanctions to demonstrate that cargo qualifies for the exemption. These are issued by the exporting governments .A UN approval certificate is also required with this certificate.

7. UN approval certificate: It is a letter from a UN official to the government of a country which proposes to export exempted goods to a country which the subject of UN sanctions. The letter states that the prohibitions in respect of these shipments no longer apply and that the captains of the ships engaged in the trades should be provided with copies of the letter. This letter is provided so that it can be produced to the naval ships operating the blockades against country against whom sanctions are in force.

8. Certificate of origin: It may be required for a cargo, when the authorities in the destination port are applying against another country and require to be satisfied that the cargo does not originate there, or where the origin of cargo must be documented as per the sale contract. This certificate is often issued by a government department, stating the country of origin of the cargo. In some cases authorities will accept ship’s cargo manifest as evidence of the origin of the cargo.  

9. Declaration by shipper: It is made in compliance with the requirement of SOLAS that before loading the shipper should provide to the Master details of any bulk cargo, so that Master can make decisions such as trim of cargo and safety precautions to be observed with respect to the loading and carriage of the cargo. 

10. Certificate of transportable moisture limits: The transportable moisture limit of the cargo which may liquefy is the maximum safe moisture content of the cargo when carried in a bulk carrier. Practically, this figure is normally included in the declaration by shipper.

11. Certificate of moisture content: The moisture content of a sample of cargo is the quantity of water, ice or other liquid which the sample contains, expressed as a percentage of total wet mass of that sample. In practice this figure is included in the shipper’s declaration. If the moisture content is higher than the transportable limit, the cargo may liquefy and cause the ship to become unstable. 

12. Master’s response sheet: This document is issued by some coal shippers to encourage Masters to comply with the General Requirement 15 of the coal section of IMSBC code. This states:’ If the behavior of the cargo during voyage differs from that specified in the declaration by shipper, the Master should report such differences to the shipper. Such report will enable the shipper to maintain records on the behavior of the coal cargoes, so that the information provided to the Master can be reviewed in the light of transport experience.’ The Masters are encouraged to complete and return these to report any unexpected experiences with coal cargoes.

13. Certificate of lashing: The Master may be required to sign a certificate of lashing to state that the securing of a timber deck cargo or a cargo steel coils or other cargo which requires lashing has been to his satisfaction. After signing the certificate the Master retains one copy and other copies are given back to the foreman responsible for the lashing.

14. Certificate of readiness to load: This certificate is issued by the marine authorities in respect of cargoes of grain and concentrates and timber deck cargo, each of which has special loading requirements. The certificate is issued after satisfactory inspections of cargo spaces and pr-loading calculations and contains reminders of restrictions that must be imposed upon loading.

15. Certificate of fitness to proceed to sea: This follows the certificate of readiness to load, being issued by the marine authorities after satisfactory completion of loading of a cargo of grain or concentrates, or a timber deck cargo. As obvious this certificate records the manner in which the cargo has been stowed and provides reminders of precaution which must be taken during the voyage. It also contains details of the vessel’s draught, trim, weights carried and stability on sailing. 

16. Certificate of Loading: A certificate of loading (bulk grain only)is issued in the USA by the National Cargo bureau to certify that a cargo of bulk grain has been loaded as per USCG regulations. The document is similar to the Canadian certificate of fitness to proceed to sea.

17. Certificate of fumigation: It is issued by the relevant agricultural or other responsible authority and provides the details of the cargo(vegetation and its products cargoes , obviously). A certificate of fumigation is required for two reasons.(A) It will satisfy local the local department of agriculture that the cargo is free of infestation, and (B) It provides the information which enables an authorized chemist to carry out a gas free test.

A clearance certificate is issued by the chemist when tests show that the residual fumigant has been dispersed from cargo spaces. Such certificate is provided by a chemist in the discharge port to ensure that cargo spaces can be safely entered.

18. Certificate of weight and quantity: A certificate of weight and quality is issued by suitably qualified surveyors and samplers and testifies to the quantity of the cargo loaded and to its physical description and analytical specification. In grain trades this is the document on which the mate’s receipt and bill of lading are based.

19. Stowage plan: Also known as Cargo plan or the hold distribution plan shows the commodity, tonnage and/or measurement of cargo in each hold. The plan may be produced by one of the ship’s officers to provide a record of the loading as observed and measured by ship’s personnel, in which case it may also provide information about the bunkers carried and the vessel’s draught, trim and stability. Alternatively, stowage plan may be produced by someone from the loading installation to record the quantities loaded in each hold. A stowage plan provide by shore-based staff will normally show the shore values for the tonnages loaded, regardless of whether or not these are the figures used in the bill of lading.

20. Cargo manifest: A cargo manifest is issued by the shippers in the loading port and is based upon the information contained in the bills of lading. It provides brief details of the ship and the loading and discharge ports and list details of the cargo carried. Details include the B/L numbers, contents, gross weight and freight. Copies of the manifest, if available are retained by the master, who will give copies to the authorities in the discharge port or ports visited en-route, if required.

21. Dangerous cargo manifest: It is issued by the shippers in compliance with the regulations which apply at the loading port. The document states the quantity of hazardous material carried and certifies that it has been properly named, prepared and otherwise in proper condition for bulk shipment. The name and description of the hazardous material as given in the Dangerous cargo manifest should be used to confirm the stowage requirements for the cargo, as stated in the IMSBC code and/or IMDG code. The document will be presented to the Master for his signature, and before signing he should satisfy himself, that the stated quantities and positions are correct and that the cargo has been stowed in accordance with the requirements of the codes.

22. Material safety data sheets: MSDS provide detailed information about hazardous cargoes and stores carried on board. It is a must and is issued by the USA. The data includes the useful information about the health hazards and the other dangers associated with the commodity, protective equipment to use, additional precautions, and emergency and the first aid.

23. Health sealing certificate: Cargo hatches may be sealed to prevent theft of cargo or because the holds have been fumigated and are unsafe to enter. When hatches have been sealed by a shore based organization a certificate recording the fact is usually issued, listing the compartments which have been sealed and the type and serial number of the seal used.

24. Statement of Facts: A statement of facts (SOF), sometimes known as a port log, is prepared by the ship’s agents in each loading and each discharging port. It is intended to provide a full record of the times of those events which may be required for the preparation of laytime statement and which may affect claims for dispatch and demurrage or for offhire.

Following things are detailed in the SOF:

  • Arrival of vessel at pilot station, the anchorage and the berth.
  • Time of pilot boarding and the arrival of tugs.
  • Tendering and receipt of notice of readiness.
  • Clearing of the holds by the pre-loading surveyor.
  • Periods of loading and discharging should be recorded.
  • Times of stoppages with their reasons.
  • Weather which interrupts cargo work and adverse weather noted at any other time.
  • Cargo tonnages, bunker figure and draughts
  • Time of fumigation, and any other delays.
  • Time of sailing.

25. Letter of protest: It is a document used to provide a written record of dispute. The Master should write a letter of protest whenever he considers that shippers, stevedores or any other parties are responsible for an event or circumstance which will cause a loss to the ship. The Master is liable to receive a letter of protest if vessel fails in some way to perform in accordance with charterparty. A letter of protest should be supported by photographs when they are available.

26. Empty hold certificate: When there is any doubt as to the outrun of the cargo-for example, if the receiver is claiming that the cargo has been short-landed, the Master can issue an empty hold certificate. Such a certificate will say that all cargo has been discharged and that the holds have been emptied. The stevedore supervisor will be asked to confirm that there is no cargo remained on board. The Master will keep the original and can give copies to the stevedore who sign it and to the ship’s agent. Some owners instruct Masters to obtain empty hold certificates for every cargo carried as it is considered a safe commercial practice.

27. Trimming certificate/ certificate of loading/ Discharging: This is a document which the Master may be asked to sign to confirm that he is satisfied with the manner in which the cargo has been trimmed.

The certificate of fitness to proceed at sea issued by port warden, coast guard or similar authority also testifies the trimming of cargo, but the trimming certificate is issued by the Master, not the authorities. 

The certificate of loading/discharging goes further and requires the Master or chief mate to state that the cargo has been properly loaded, stowed, trimmed and separations laid according to the signatory’s satisfaction.

28. Stevedores’ time sheet: This normally shows the number of gangs employed, the hatches worked and times and reasons for stoppages. If asked to countersign this document the Master should ensure that it is correct. He should insist on the correction of stevedores’ time sheet when it is inaccurate. Alternatively he can sign ‘for receipt only’.

29. Clean ballast discharge permit: This document is nowadays widely used in many parts of the world. This certificate authorizes the vessel to discharge clean ballast in the port limits and stipulates the conditions which must be observed whilst ballast is being discharged. The permit is issued by the port authority following application from the ship’s agent and a copy has to be posted in ship’s gangway with a record of ‘checks and condition of discharge’.

30. Paint compliance certificate: If holds have been repainted shortly before a cargo of grain or other foodstuffs is to be loaded the shippers may demand to see a compliance certificate issued by an independent laboratory, states that all the materials used to make the paint are approved for the use on surfaces which are in contact with foods.

31. Stevedores damage form:  These documents are issued by Master, to hold stevedores responsible for damage to ship or cargo.

32. Certificate of IMO classification: A certificate of IMO classification of a cargo must be issued to the Master by the shipper before shipment of a cargo which is listed in the IMDG code. This is essential so that he can be ready for correct emergency procedures, if they be necessary. Such a certificate is in the form of standardized dangerous goods bill of lading. Copies of the certificate of IMO classification may be required by the receiver and by the port authority in the port of discharge or the ports visited en route.

33. Certificate of compliance/ IMSBS code fitness certificate:  These certificates, issued by an Administration or classification society on behalf of an administration to every ship constructed since 1st September 1984, state the dry bulk cargoes that the ship is constructed, equipped and permitted to carry. In addition to listing permitted cargoes the certificates or their supporting documents list the conditions that must be satisfied and equipment that must be carried if the certificate is to remain valid. The certificate for the carriage of dangerous goods must be renewed at each periodical survey.

34. Hatch closing certificate: This is issued by an attending surveyor, reports on hatch covers which appear to be in good condition and which have been properly closed, and has provision for recording hatch covers or fittings which appear to be defective, or which have not been properly closed. This appears to be a document used by shippers or charterers who want to ensure that their cargoes are well protected. The Master or chief mate, when countersigning the document can, if necessary, insert a remark rejecting the report.

35. No damage certificate: In some countries, particularly India, the Master will be required to sign  a “ No damage certificate” releasing the stevedores from liability after completion of discharge. The ship may be prevented to sail until the certificate has been signed, in that case Masters can sign the certificate with the endorsement ‘without prejudice’.

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Emergency Response Procedures for Ships Carrying Dangerous Goods (EmS)

Emergency Response Procedures for Ships Carrying Dangerous Goods (EmS) Guide:

This EmS Guide contains guidance on Emergency Response Procedures for Ships Carrying Dangerous Goods including the Emergency Schedules (EmS) to be followed in case of incidents involving dangerous substances, materials or articles, or harmful substances (marine pollutants), regulated under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code).

The purpose of this Guide is to provide guidance for dealing with fires and spillages (leakages) on board ships involving the dangerous goods listed in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code).

In accordance with the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, all ships, and the companies responsible for their operation, are required to maintain a Safety Management System (SMS). Within the SMS, procedures for responding to potential shipboard emergencies are required. This Guide is intended to assist shipowners, ship operators and other parties concerned with developing such emergency response procedures, which should be integrated into the ship’s contingency plan.

In the event of a fire or spillage incident, initial actions should be carried out in accordance with the shipboard emergency plan. Where dangerous goods are involved, the responses in the emergency plan should be based on this Guide for specific dangerous goods having regard to, inter alia, the type of ship, the quantity and type of packaging of the dangerous goods and whether the goods are stowed on or under deck.

EMS Guide:

  1. The EMS Guide contains guidance an Emergency Response Procedures for ships carrying Dangerous goods including the Emergency schedules to be followed in case of incidents involving dangerous substances materials or articles or harmful substances (marine pollutants), regulated under the IMDG Code.
  2. In accordance with the ISM Code all ships & the companies responsible for their operations are required to maintain a SMS. Within the SMS, procedures for responding to potential shipboard emergencies are required. This guide (EMS Procedure) is intended to assist shipowners, shop operators & other parties concerned with a developing such emergency response procedure, which should be integrated into ships contingency plan.
  3. The EMS guide is divided into two emergency schedules viz, Emergency Schedules for five & Emergency schedules for spillage.

Information contained in EMS Guide:-

  1. Identification of Dangerous goods involved in order that specific EMS. Fire schedules for the cargoes may be consulted and appropriate action taken.
  2. Emergency action and diagnosis.
  3. The guide contains table for emergency related to fire & spillage & is listed under various schedules. Describing procedures for action to be taken in special circumstances.
  4. Appendices – The appendices provide comprehensive information, a list of medicines / drugs and a list of chemicals referred to in this tables.
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Inspection & Operational Requirements for IMDG Cargo

Inspection, Responsibilities & Duties by Port Authority before Loading Dangerous Goods:

  • A port authority shall perform the control of the compliance with this Regulation in the territory of the relevant port.
  • The port authority shall appoint an inspector (hereinafter – port inspector), which has good knowledge of national and international requirements in relation to the handling of dangerous and polluting cargoes in ports and the qualification of which is attested by a certificate confirming the competence with respect to the acquisition of the requirements specified in the MARPOL Convention, the International Convention for the Safety of Life and Sea of 1974, and the Protocols of 1978 and 1988 thereof (hereinafter – the SOLAS Convention), and the codes binding thereto (IBC, IMDG, IMSBC, IGC), as well as in the International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals (hereinafter – ISGOTT) of the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), the Liquefied Gas Handling Principles on Ships and in Terminals (hereinafter – SIGTTO Guidelines) of the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (hereinafter – SIGTTO) and Recommendations on the Safe Transport of Dangerous Cargoes and Related Activities in Port Areas (hereinafter – IMO Recommendations) of the International Maritime Organisation (hereinafter – IMO).
  • The port authority shall ensure training of the port inspector, as well as renewal of his or her certificate of competence at least once every two years.

Port state control / inspections on operational requirements w.r.t. Marpol Annex III:

MARPOL Annex III- Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form:-

Regulation 8 – Port State control on operational requirements*

  1. A ship when in a port of another Party is subject to inspection by officers duly authorized by such Party concerning operational requirements under this Annex, where there are clear grounds for believing that the master or crew are not familiar with essential shipboard procedures relating to the prevention of pollution by harmful substances.
  2. In the circumstances given in paragraph (1) of this regulation, the Party shall take such steps as will ensure that the ship shall not sail until the situation has been brought to order in accordance with the requirements of this Annex.
  3. Procedures relating to the port State control prescribed in article 5 of the present Convention shall apply to this regulation.
  4. Nothing in this regulation shall be construed to limit the rights and obligations of a Party carrying out control over operational requirements specifically provided for in the present Convention.

* Refer to the Procedures for port State control adopted by the Organization by resolution A.787(19) and amended by A.882(21), and as may be further amended.

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BLU Code

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Ensure the Ship Shore Safety Checklist in Appendix 3 is completed in consultation with the terminal before Loading or Unloading is commenced.
  3. 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.
  4. Ensure that the terminal representative is made aware of the requirements for harmonization between deballasting & cargo loading rates for the ship concerned.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Any requirements for cargo trimming should be in accordance with the procedures prescribed in the IMSBC Code.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. The Master should advise the terminal representative of any deviation from the deballasting plan or any other matter which may affect cargo loading.
  7. 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.
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Concentrates in Bulk as per IMSBC code

Main Hazards Associated with Carriage of Concentrates:

Cargo Liquefaction: Liquefaction is a phenomenon in which solid bulk cargoes are abruptly transformed from a solid dry state to an almost fluid state. Many common bulk cargoes such as iron ore fines, nickel ore and various mineral concentrates are examples of materials that may liquefy. Liquefaction occurs as a result of compaction of the cargo which results from engine vibrations, ship’s motion and rolling and wave impact that further causes cargo agitation.

Oxygen depletion: Sea transportation of bulk cargoes of an organic nature such as wood, paper pulp and agricultural products may result in rapid and severe oxygen depletion and formation of carbon dioxide. Thus apparently harmless cargoes may create potentially life threatening conditions. The cargo holds and communicating spaces in bulk carriers are examples of confined spaces where such toxic atmospheres may develop. Several fatal accidents can occur when people enter unventilated spaces. The IMSBC code lists the following cargoes as potentially oxygen depleting: coal, direct reduced iron, sponge iron, sulphide concentrates, ammonium nitrate based fertilisers, linted cotton seed. Various gaseous products are formed including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and hydro carbons.

Precautions when loading concentrates as per “IMSBC” Code:

General Precautions:

  • Bilge wells shall be clean, dry and covered as appropriate, to prevent ingress of the cargo.
  • Bilge system of a cargo space to which this cargo is to be loaded shall be tested to ensure it is working.

Loading Precautions:

  • This cargo shall be trimmed to ensure the height difference between peaks and troughs does not exceed 5 % of the ship’s breadth and that the cargo slopes uniformly from the hatch boundaries to the bulkheads and no shearing faces remain to collapse during voyage in particular on smaller ships, i.e., 100 m long or less.
  • As the density of the cargo is extremely high, the tanktop may be overstressed unless the cargo is evenly spread across the tanktop to equalize the weight distribution.
  • Due consideration shall be paid to ensure that the tanktop is not overstressed during the voyage and during loading by a pile of the cargo.

Weather Precautions:

When a cargo is carried in a ship other than specially constructed or fitted cargo ship complying with the requirements in subsection 7.3.2 of this code, the following provisions shall be complied with:

  • The moisture content of the cargo shall be kept less than its TML during voyage.
  • Unless expressly provided otherwise in this individual schedule, the cargo shall not be handled during precipitation.
  • Unless expressly provided otherwise in this individual schedule, during handling of the cargo, all non-working hatches of the cargo spaces into which the cargo is loaded or to be loaded shall be closed.

Procedure for loading Urea in Bulk:

  • Trim in accordance with the relevant provisions required under sections 4 and 5 of the code.
  • Non-cohesive bulk cargoes are those listed in paragraph 1 in appendix 3 and any other cargo not listed in the appendix, exhibiting the properties of a non-cohesive material.
  • For trimming purposes, solid bulk cargoes can be categorized as cohesive or non-cohesive. The angle of repose is a characteristic of non-cohesive bulk cargoes which is indicative of cargo stability and has been included in the individual schedules for non-cohesive cargoes. The angle of repose of the cargoes shall establish which provisions of this section apply. Methods for determining the angle of repose are given in section 6.
  • Non-cohesive bulk cargoes having an angle of repose less than or equal to 30º:- These cargoes, which flow freely like grain, shall be carried according to the provisions applicable to the stowage of grain cargoes. The bulk density of the cargo shall be taken into account when determining:
    • the scantlings and securing arrangements of divisions and bin bulkheads; and
    • the stability effect of free cargo surfaces.
  • Non-cohesive bulk cargoes having an angle of repose greater than 30° to 35° inclusive:- These cargoes shall be trimmed according to the following criteria:
    • the unevenness of the cargo surface measured as the vertical distance (Δh) between the highest and lowest levels of the cargo surface shall not exceed B/10, where B is the beam of the ship in metres, with a maximum allowable Δh = 1.5 m; or
    • loading is carried out using trimming equipment approved by the competent authority.
  • Non-cohesive bulk cargoes having an angle of repose greater than 35°:-These cargoes shall be trimmed according to the following criteria:
    • the unevenness of the cargo surface measured as the vertical distance (Δh) between the highest and lowest levels of the cargo surface shall not exceed B/10, where B is the beam of the ship in metres, with a maximum allowable Δh = 2 m; or
    • loading is carried out using trimming equipment approved by the competent authority.
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Angle of Repose & Flow Moisture Point on Board

Test Procedure for “Angle of Repose” on Board:-

In the absence of a tilting box apparatus, an alternative procedure for determining the approximate angle of repose is given in subsection 2.2 of appendix 2 of IMSBC Code

Definition: – According to this method the angle of repose is the angle between the cone slope and the horizontal measured at half height.

Principle of test: – To determine the angle of repose, a quantity of the material to be tested is poured very carefully out of a flask onto a sheet of rough-textured paper, in such a way that a symmetrical cone is formed.

Equipment: – The necessary equipment to carry out this test is as follows:

– a horizontal table free from vibrations;

– a sheet of rough-textured paper onto which the material should be poured;

– a protractor; and

– a 3-litre conical flask.

Procedure: – Put the sheet of paper on the table. Split 10l of the material to be tested into three sub-samples and test each in the following way:

Pour two thirds of the sub-sample (i.e., 2 l) onto the sheet, producing a starting cone. The remainder of this sub-sample is then poured very carefully from a height of a few millimetres on top of the cone. Care should be taken that the cone will be built up symmetrically. This may be achieved by revolving the flask slowly close around the top of the cone when pouring.

When measuring, care should be taken that the protractor does not touch the cone; otherwise this may result in sliding of the material and spoil the test.

The angle has to be measured at four places around the cone, about 90 degrees apart.

This test should be repeated on the other two sub-samples.

Calculations:- The angle of repose is taken as the mean of the 12 measurements and is reported to half a degree.

This figure can be converted to the tilting box value as follows:

at = as + 3o

   Where,   at = angle of repose according to the tilting box text

as = angle of repose according to the survey test

Test Procedure for “Flow Moisture Point” (FMP) on Board:-

Definition:- The Flow Moisture Point (FMP), or flow point, is a moisture content (reported in gross water content by weight) determined in two of the three TML test methods stated in Appendix 2 of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code).

The Flow Table Test and Penetration Test use the FMP to calculate the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) of a Group A or liquefiable solid bulk cargo. Once past the FMP a sample is said to have reached its flow state.

Flow Table Test (FTT):- During the Flow Table Test procedure described in Appendix 2 of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code), the FMP is calculated as the average gross water content by weight of the two samples on the flow table, one which shows plastic deformation (above FMP) and one which does not show plastic deformation (below FMP). These two samples must have a maximum difference of 0.5% gross water content by weight to be valid.

Equation:- The following equation is derived from the equations given in Appendix 2 of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code) which are used to calculate the FMP during the Flow Table Test:

Test Procedure for “Flow Moisture Point” (FMP) on Board


m1 = mass of wet sample just above the Flow Moisture Point (FMP),

m2 = mass of dry sample just above the Flow Moisture Point (FMP),

m3 = mass of wet sample just below the Flow Moisture Point (FMP) and

m4 = mass of dry sample just below the Flow Moisture Point (FMP).

Penetration Test (PT):- During the Penetration Test procedure described in Appendix 2 of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code), the FMP is calculated as the average gross water content by weight of the two samples in the Penetration Test mould, one which shows penetration by the relevant penetration bit greater than 50 mm (above FMP) and one which does not show penetration by the relevant penetration bit greater than 50 mm (below FMP). These two samples must have a maximum difference of 0.5% gross water content by weight to be valid.


The same equation that is used to determine the FMP during the Flow Table Test is used during the Penetration Test.

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Bulk Cargoes

Carriage of Solid Bulk Cargoes other than Grain:

(1) Every ship loading solid bulk cargoes other than grain shall comply with the general requirements of the EC code and the particular requirement or precaution specified in appendix A, B and C of that code.

(2) Bulk cargoes shall be loaded and trimed reasonably level, as necessary, to the boundaries of the cargo space as to minimize the risk of shifting and to maintain adequate stability throughout the voyage.

(3) When bulk cargoes are carried in “Tween-docks” the hatchways of such “Tween-docks” shall be closed in those cases where the loading information indicates an unacceptable level of stress on the bottom structure if the hatchways are left open.  The cargo shall be trimmed reasonably level and shall either extend from side to side or be secured by additional longitudinal divisions of sufficient strength.  The safe load-carrying capacity of the “twin-docks” shall be observe to ensure that the dock-structure is not overloaded.

(4) Concentrates or other cargoes which may liquefy shall only be accepted for loading when the actual moisture content of the cargo is less than its transportable moisture limit;

Provided that such concentrates and other cargoes may be accepted for loading even when their moisture content exceeds the above limit, where the safety arrangements including adequate stability in case of an assumed shift of cargo and adequate structural integrity are to the satisfaction of the Nautical Advisor.

(5) Prior to loading a bulk cargo which is not a cargo classified in accordance with the provisions if sub-rule (1) of rule 10 but which has chemical properties that may create a potential hazard, special precautions fro its safe carriage shall be taken.

(6) Every ship carrying cargoes specified in Appendices A, B, and C of B.C. Code shall be issued with a certificate of compliances as specified in the Second Schedule.  Such certificate shall be issued only after such ship complies with the requirements of these rules and the Code of safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (B.C. code).

(7) Such certificate of compliance referred to in Sub-rule.

(8) Shall be in force for a period to 5 years from date of issue or such short period as specified in the certificate.

Procedure for Calculating Maximum Allowable Weight that can be loaded in a bulk carrier for single & Adjacent Holds:

When bulk carriers are designed a maximum tonnage is assumed for each hold and the ship is then built with sufficient strength to carry the intended voyage. A ship’s loading plan should never propose the loading of a tonnage which exceeds the maximum permitted tonnage.

        The distribution of cargo along the ship’s length has a direct influence on both the global bending & shearing of the hull girder and on the stresses in the localised hull structure.

The more commonly adopted cargo distribution are:-

A) Homogenous Hold Loading Condition:-

Bulk Carrier - Homogenous Hold Loading Condition
  • Cargo is distributed homogenously in all holds.
  • Loading of this type is adapted for all types of cargoes, but in particular for carriage of low density cargo.
  • Heavy density cargo such as iron ore may also be carried in same fashion.

B) Alternate Hold Loading:-

Bulk Carrier - Alternate Hold Loading
  • Cargo is distributed in Alternate Holds used for loading high density cargo and is commonly employed in large Bulk Carriers.
  • Such type of cargo distribution helps to keep Gm of vessel small and reduce adverse rolling period of stiff ships.
  • Weight carried in each hold is approximately twice of that maximum permissible load in a single hold in a homogenous load distribution.
  • The structure of the ship is specially designed and reinforced to withstand stresses.
  • Holds which remain empty are not reinforced.
  • Ships which are not approved for alternate holding must never do this.

C) Block Hold Loading:-

Bulk Carrier - Block Hold Loading
  • In Block loading the weight of cargo to be carried should cater to ship’s sailing draught and capability of the structure.
  • The quantity of cargo which can be carried in blocks is much less than the sum of full cargo capacity of individual hold at the max. draught condition.
  • Part loaded or Block loading conditions should only be adopted in either of the following Conditions:-
    • Such loading distribution is described in ship’s loading manual specifying the holds designated for block loading.
    • The ship’s structure in the way of cargo holds is transverse cross decks, double bottom structures & transverse w/t b/w in the way of cargo hold are adequately reinforced.
    • The ship is provided with approved loading criteria that define the maximum cargo weight limits as function of mean draught for each hold & block of holds and ensure that sea-going SWSF and SWBF are within the permissible limits.

Calculations of Maximum Permissible Loads:-

  • Whilst the classification societies normally allow a margin for error when stating the maximum permissible load for a hold the margin is usually very small and should never been relied upon.
  • Planned hold loadings should never exceed the hold loading criteria given in the approved loading manual.
  • The max. permissible tonnage for each hold is calculated on the assumption that the cargo will be trimmed reasonably level to the boundaries of the spaces and the double bottom cross deck structures are designed based upon trimmed cargo distributed symmetrically in hold space.
  • The maximum tonnage which can be placed in a hold with safety may be considerably reduced when the ship is being block loaded, where the total max permissible load in the two adjacent holds should not exceed 1.25x maximum corresponding alternate hold load with D.B. Tanks empty.
  • The loading criteria is specified in the loading manual defines the max permissible cargo on each hold & block hold loading to be a function of non-permissible draft at mid-length of the hold for each condition of loading.According to IMSBC code any cargo with a SF of 0.56 m3/t or less is defined as high density cargo & specifies structural strength arrangements for C/H, designed to carry such cargoes.
    • Maximum cargo loaded (in tonnes) in a hold = 0.9 × L × B × D
      • Where       L = Length (in metres) of cargo hold
      • B = Breadth (in metres) of cargo hold
      • D = Summer load draught (in metres).
    • If the cargo is untrimmed or partially trimmed, then:
      • Maximum height of cargo pile = 1.1 × D × Stowage Factor (Where Stowage Factor is given in m3/t)
  • If the cargo is trimmed level, then 20% more cargo may be loaded (as calculated in [i] above) in the lower hold.
  • The cargo officer should calculate the maximum permissible tonnage for each cargo hold. This is found in the ship’s stability book, but can be calculated by the formula:
    • Max. Permissible Tonnage = Total Area of Tanktop (m2) × Allowed Load (i.e., Tanktop Strength in Tonnes per m2).

(Note: the above formula may only be used for homogeneous bulk cargoes and not cargoes such as steel coils.)

  • The IACS estimates that an extra 10% of stresses on the vessels structure increase the SWSF & SWBM by 40% and 20% respectively. These small variations in loads can be easily caused by improper cargo handling & distribution during loading period.

Precautions before and during loading – Bulk carriers guideline:

Before loading commences the following precautions must be taken and must remain in force whilst the vessel is loading bulk cargoes:

  1. The Master must ensure that he has as much information as possible concerning the nominated cargoes. All appropriate publications are to be consulted in this respect. The Master must also ensure that he is fully aware of the dangers, precautions and peculiarities, any ventilation and instrumentation requirements associated with the cargoes to monitor temperatures, gas and oxygen levels, moisture content etc. Where there is any doubt, the master is to contact the relevant Management Office for advice.
  2. When declaring the amount of cargo the vessel can load, due attention must be paid to limitations and draft restrictions at the ports of discharge, bunkers to be taken and trim required for adequate manoeuvrability of the vessel during the voyage.
  3. A Pre-Loading Meeting with the Shore facility is to be held to discuss the Chief Officer’s Cargo/Ballast Load Plan, communications and any relevant Port Regulations applicable to the vessel.
  4. It is of the utmost importance that Loading Operations are carried out with careful regard to the ship’s stability, as well as bending moments and shear force limitations.
  5. The OOW is fully aware of the times of high and low water at the berth.
  6. The ship’s moorings are to be closely monitored and adjusted as necessary to ensure that they have the correct tension.
  7. The OOW must closely monitor the condition of the cargoes being loaded and report any defect immediately.
  8. Where appropriate a gas free certificate is to be issued by a marine chemist.
  9. Where slops have been retained on board these are to be isolated in the appropriate slop tank and inerted.

Maintaining standard loading condition:

All ships nominated for loading should hold the appropriate valid statutory certification including, if required, the document of compliance for ships carrying solid dangerous goods in bulk.

It is recommended that the period of validity of the ship’s certificates be sufficient to remain valid during loading, voyage and unloading times, plus a reserve to allow for delays in berthing, inclement weather or both.

The ship owner, manager or operator, when offering a ship for a particular cargo or service, should ensure that the ship:

  1. is maintained in a sound, seaworthy condition;
  2. has on board a competent crew;
  3. has on board at least one officer proficient in the languages used at both the loading and unloading ports, or has an officer available who is proficient in the English language; and
  4. is free of defects that may prejudice the ship’s safe navigation, loading or unloading.

It is essential that a ship selected to transport a solid bulk cargo be suitable for its intended purpose taking into account the terminals at which it will load or unload.

The charterer and shipper when accepting a ship for a particular cargo or service should ensure that the ship:

  1. is suitable for access to the planned loading or unloading facilities; and
  2. does not have cargo handling equipment which would inhibit the safety of the loading and unloading operations.

Ships nominated for bulk loading should be suitable for the intended cargo. Suitable ships should be:

  1. weather tight, and efficient in all respects for the normal perils of the sea and the intended voyage;
  2. provided with an approved stability and loading booklet written in a language understood by the ship’s officers concerned and using standard expressions and abbreviations. If the language is neither English, nor French, nor Spanish, a translation into one of these languages should be included;
  3. provided with hatch openings of sufficient size to enable the cargo to be loaded, stowed and unloaded satisfactorily; and
  4. provided with the hatch identification numbers used in the loading manual and loading or unloading plan. The location, size and colour of these numbers should be chosen so that they are clearly visible to the operator of the loading or unloading equipment.

Most Common Hazards of Bulk Cargoes on Board Ships are mentioned below:

  1. Cargo shift: Cargo shift has always remained as one of the greatest dangers on bulk carriers. This problem is greater for ships carrying grain cargoes. Grain settles by about 2% of its volume. Because of this settling, small void spaces exist on the top of grain surface. These void spaces permit the grain to shift. The free flowing characteristics of grain reduce the stability of any ship carrying it. Trimming is undertaken to reduce the danger of cargo shifting. Rolling can also cause shifting of cargo from one side to the other and reduce her positive stability resulting in the vessel to capsize.
  2. Cargo falling from height: Cargoes like iron ore, quartz and steel scraps are high density cargo. There is a possibility of cargo falling from height during cargo operations. Cargo may either fall from the conveyor belt of the shiploader or from the discharging grab on to the deck of the ship. People working on deck can get injured badly if hit by the sizeable lumps of the bulk cargo. It can be as bad as death. Cargo operation should always be monitored by responsible officers and care should be taken that no unwanted personnel are present on the working area of the deck. Persons who are involved in the cargo operation should wear protective clothing including hard hats, safety shoes and highly visible vests.
  3. Dust from working cargo: Dust is one of the most common hazards in bulk carriers. Many bulk cargoes are dusty by nature. Dust particles are small enough to be inhaled and if inhaled can have disastrous effects on health. Anyone working on the deck can be exposed to high levels of dust. Dust can cause sneezing and irritation of the eyes. Where possible it is always best to avoid exposure to cargo dust however if exposure cannot be avoided protective face masks should be worn. Those involved in cargo operation and need to be present on deck when a dusty cargo is being loaded or discharged and anyone sweeping cargo with a brush or with air should wear a suitable respirator. Filters should be renewed when soiled. Deck machinery should be properly protected as they can be adversely affected by dust.
  4. Cargo Liquefaction: Liquefaction is a phenomenon in which solid bulk cargoes are abruptly transformed from a solid dry state to an almost fluid state. Many common bulk cargoes such as iron ore fines, nickel ore and various mineral concentrates are examples of materials that may liquefy. Liquefaction occurs as a result of compaction of the cargo which results from engine vibrations, ship’s motion and rolling and wave impact that further causes cargo agitation. Liquefaction results in a flow state to develop. This permits the cargo to slide and shift in one direction thus creating free surface effect and reducing the GM thereby reducing stability. Shippers declaration should be thoroughly examined by the chief officer before loading any bulk cargo. He must make sure that the moisture content of the cargo to be loaded should not exceed the transportable moisture limit to avoid liquefaction during the voyage. Often shippers declaration turn out to be faulty. Spot checks can also be carried on board ships to check the moisture content.
  5. Structural damage: Heavy cargoes place high loads on the structure and structural failure is therefore probable. High density cargoes occupy a small area for a large weight that is they have a low stowage factor. It is therefore important that the tank top has sufficient strength to carry heavy cargoes like iron ore, nickel ore, bauxite etc . The load density of the tank top should never be exceeded. Tank top strength is provided in the ship’s stability booklet. Exceeding the maximum permissible cargo load in any of the holds of a ship will lead to over stressing of local structure. Overloading will induce greater stresses in the double bottom, transverse bulkheads, hatch coamings, hatch covers, main frames and associated brackets of individual cargo holds. Poor distribution of and/or inadequate trimming of certain cargoes can result in excessive bending and sheer forces.
  6. Oxygen depletion: Sea transportation of bulk cargoes of an organic nature such as wood, paper pulp and agricultural products may result in rapid and severe oxygen depletion and formation of carbon dioxide. Thus apparently harmless cargoes may create potentially life threatening conditions. The cargo holds and communicating spaces in bulk carriers are examples of confined spaces where such toxic atmospheres may develop. Several fatal accidents can occur when people enter unventilated spaces. The IMSBC code lists the following cargoes as potentially oxygen depleting: coal, direct reduced iron, sponge iron, sulphide concentrates, ammonium nitrate based fertilisers, linted cotton seed. Various gaseous products are formed including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and hydro carbons. Entry of personnel into enclosed spaces should be permitted only when adequate ventilation and testing of the atmosphere is done with appropriate instruments. Emergency entry may be undertaken with SCBA. Some cargoes also use up oxygen within the cargo space. The main examples are rusting of steel swarf cargoes. Some grain cargoes may also deplete the oxygen content in the cargo space.
  7. Corrosion: Some cargoes like coal and sulphur can cause severe damage due to corrosion. Cargoes of sulphur in bulk are normally subjected to exposed storage and are thus subjected to inclement weather thereby resulting in the increase of moisture content of the cargo. Wet sulphur is potentially highly corrosive. When sulphur is loaded, any retained free water filters to the bottom of the holds during the voyage, from where it is pumped out via the bilges. Some water remains on the tank top and reacts with sulphur. This leads to the release of sulphuric acid resulting in the corrosion of the ship’s holds. Pond coal which is reclaimed after having been abandoned and dumped in fresh water ponds usually have high moisture content and sulphur content. This type of coal may be liable to react with water and produce acids which may corrode parts of the ship.
  8. Contamination: Preparation of cargo holds for the next intended carriage is a critical element of bulk carrier operations. A lack of proper preparation can lead to claims related to cargo quality such as contamination, water ingress or cargo loss. Residues and dust of previous cargo can contaminate the presently loaded bulk cargo and can cause cargo stains that are not acceptable. Cement when contaminated by residues of previous cargo reduces its binding capacity. Unrefined sugar if stored near or above dry, refined sugar can damage it by the draining syrup. Water ingress may result from leaking hatch covers, back flow through bilge systems, leaking manhole lids and inadequate monitoring. Cargoes like salt can absorb moisture and dissolve into a liquid. Sugar can ferment in the presence of moisture. The bilges should be pumped out regularly during the voyage.
  9. Fire: Bulk cargoes are deemed to present a great deal of fire hazards. Many bulk cargoes have a tendency to heat due to the oxidation process taking place during the voyage. Common cargoes like coal, sulphur, cotton, fishmeal are liable to spontaneous heating. Coal also emits methane which is a flammable gas. When mixed with air it can form an explosive mixture. Dust created by certain cargoes may constitute an explosion hazard. Sulphur dust can readily ignite causing an explosion. Friction between cotton bales can cause spontaneous combustion and produce heat. Fire precautions should be strictly observed on bulk carriers.

The ship as carrier is obliged to care for the cargo in an expert manner to ensure it is discharged in the same state in which it was loaded. The IMSBC code should be consulted for the safe stowage and shipment of solid bulk cargoes. Suitable precautions and good seamanship should be adopted to minimise and overcome the hazards of bulk cargoes.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of hazards of bulk cargo, but enumerates the most common ones.

Common Structural Rules for Bulk Carriers (CSR):-

  • It is a comprehensive and consistent rule set which will set the standard for oil tankers and bulk carriers.
  • The new rules set consists of two main parts:-
    • General Hull requirements applicable to tanks & bulk carriers such as wave loads hull girder strength buckling & fatigue requirements.
    • Ship-type specific requirements only applicable to bulk carriers or oil tankers.
  • These rules comply with SOLAS II-I Reg. 3.10 “Global Based Ship Construction Standards for bulk carriers & oil tankers” (CBS).

Application Applies to:-

  • Tankers for oil & oil product with length 150m or above.
  • Bulk carriers with length of 90m or above.
  • Excluded by the CSR are – Ore Carriers open hatch bulk carriers w/o hopper and TST, OBO’s, self unloaders and some other specialized bulk carriers.

Key Features of the CSR BC, effective as on 1st July 2015:-

  • Extended verification scope including FE analysis of all cargo holds.
  • More transparent & consistent requirements including technical background.
  • Improved load model/ formulations based on direct wave load analysis.
  • Enhanced fatigue standard including detail design standard.
  • Hull girder buckling also including lateral pressure and combination with shear stress.
  • Hull girder ultimate limit state assessment, including damage condition.
  • Compliance with IMO Global Based Maintenance & Standards (GBS).
  • Increased design grab weight for Paramax & Capasize V/L’s (Applicable only for Bulk Carriers).

Consequence of CSR for BC & OT:-

  • The side shell plating both in mid ship area and in way of E/R & A.P.T. may need reinforcement or increase in thickness.
  • The grab notation requirements have been modified. The minimum mass of unladen grab has been increased to 35tons for Capesize vessels and 30ton for Panamax B.C. Larger grab weight will give thicker inner bottom plating with length equal to or greater than 200m.
  • Finite element yielding assessment has limited impact, but FE backling assessment leads to scantling impact for some members such as:
    • Hopper Structure
    • Inner Hull upper part
    • Longitudinal Bulkhead upper part.
    • Horizontal stringers in the double hull.
    • Double bottom floors
  • The increase scope for FE analysis has a significant scantling impact in the way of foremost & aftermost C/H and also primary members connected to collision bulkhead, F.P.T & structures attached to engine room bulkhead inside E/R.
  • It is further seen that hatch cover design and / or scantlings in way of outside midship region may need to be improved. The larger opening of the hatch for Handymax size vessel will lead to higher torsional stresses on hull girder. So special attention is paid through CSR to the stressed & fatigue developing in the hull girder structure of the vessel.

Loading / Unloading plan as per Code of Practice for Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carrier:

Loading Table as per Code of Practice for Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carrier
Loading Table as per Code of Practice for Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carrier
Unloading Table as per Code of Practice for Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carrier
Unloading Table as per Code of Practice for Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carrier
  • The BLU Code has been developed by IMO to minimize losses of bulk carriers.
  • The purpose of the Code is to assist persons responsible for the Safe Loading or Unloading of bulk carriers to carry out their functions and to promote the safety of bulk carriers.
  • The Code primarily covers the safety of ships loading and unloading solid bulk cargoes, excluding grain, and reflects current issues, best practices and legislative requirements.
  • Broader safety and pollution issues such as those covered by the SOLAS, MARPOL and Load Line Conventions are not specifically included in the Code.
  • The recommendations in this Code provide guidance to shipowners, masters, shippers, Operators of bulk carriers, charterers and terminal operators for the safe handling, loading, and unloading of solid bulk cargoes.
  • The loading or unloading plan should be prepared in a form such as that shown in appendix 2 of the BLU Code.
  • Worked examples of this form are also shown in appendix 2. A different form may be used provided it contains the essential information to meet the requirements of this Code.
  • The minimum information for this purpose is that enclosed in the heavy line box on the sample form.
  • The loading or unloading plan should only be changed when a revised plan has been prepared, accepted and signed by both parties. Loading plans should be kept by the ship and terminal for a period of six months.
  • A copy of the agreed loading or unloading plan and any subsequent amendments to it should be lodged with the appropriate authority of the port State.

It is recommended that information books prepared by terminal operators, port authorities or both should contain the following information relating to their site specific requirements:

1) Port Information Books:

  • Location of the port and the terminal.
  • Details of port administration.
  • Radio communication procedures and frequencies.
  • Arrival information requirements.
  • Port health, immigration, quarantine and customs regulations and procedures
  • Relevant charts and nautical publications
  • Pilotage requirements
  • Towage and tug assistance.
  • Berthing and anchorage facilities.
  • Port emergency procedures.
  • Significant weather features.
  • Availability of fresh water, provisions, bunkers and lubricants.
  • The maximum size of ship the port can accept.
  • Maximum permissible draught and minimum depth of water in navigation channels
  • Water density at the port.
  • Maximum permissible air draught.
  • Requirements for ship’s draught and trim for navigation in the waterways.
  • Tidal and current information, as it affects ship movements.
  • Restrictions or conditions on the discharge of ballast water
  • Statutory requirements regarding loading and cargo declaration
  • Information on waste reception facilities in the port.

2) Terminal Information Books:

  • Details of terminal contact personnel.
  • Technical data on the berths and loading or unloading equipment
  • Depth of water at the berth
  • Water density at the berth
  • The minimum and maximum size of ship which the terminal’s facilities are designed to accept, including the minimum clearance between deck obstructions.
  • Mooring arrangements and attendance of mooring lines
  • Loading or unloading rates and equipment clearances
  • Loading or unloading procedures and communications
  • Cargo weight determinations by weight-meter and draught survey
  • Conditions for acceptance of combination carriers
  • Access to and from ships and berths or jetties
  • Terminal emergency procedures
  • Damage and indemnity arrangements
  • Landing location of accommodation ladder
  • Information on waste reception facilities at the terminal

3) Extreme cold weather information:

Ports and terminals situated in regions subject to extreme cold weather should advise masters where to obtain information on operation of ships under such conditions.

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Sulphur in Bulk Carriers

Hazards with shipment of Sulphur in Bulk:

  1. Explosion Hazards: – Sulphur is flammable substance in both solid and liquid state. The dust is characterized by a very low ignition point of 190oc compared to other dust which is combustible and dust clouds are readily ignited by weak frictional sparks. Dust containing 25% or more. Elemental sulphur may be almost as explosive as pure sulphur.
  2. Incompatible Chemicals: – Explosive mixtures may be formed if sulphur is contaminated with chlorate nitrates or other oxidizing agents.
  3. Static Electricity: – Sulphur has excellent electrical insulation properties and under the right conditions will readily pick up static electricity which of discharged can result in ignition.
  4. Fire: – Solid and liquid sulphur will burn to produce sulphur dioxide gas, which is extremely irritating and toxic. The effects of the fire hazard itself are slight.
  5. Emission of H2S: – When sulphur is re-melted it may release small quantities of H2S gas which is both flammable and toxic.
  6. Dust Explosion:- In sulphur dust produced is flammable in nature. Apart from rupture it can cause massive explosion if ignited.
  7. Corrosion:- The sulphur forms sulphuric acid under favourable condition which is very corrosive in nature.
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Iron Ores in Bulk Cargo

Procedure for sampling of Iron Ore Fines:

Shippers are required, as per Section 4.3.3 of IMSBC, to establish procedures for ‘sampling, testing and controlling moisture content to ensure the moisture content is less than TML’. These procedures should be approved and their implementation checked by the competent authority of the port of loading. The master must be provided with the documentation issued by the competent authority confirming that the procedures have been approved prior to commencing loading.

Unfortunately there have been many instances where the information provided by the shipper has stated that the moisture content of the cargo has been within the TML but which cargo has later proven to be liable to liquefy.

This can come about through poor testing procedures (despite detailed advice as to the conduct of tests contained within the IMSBC Code), changes in circumstance since testing was carried out e.g. heavy rain (again the Code requires the shipper to retest in these circumstances but often shippers fail to do this), or through lack of understanding by shippers’ representatives of the potential dangers posed to the vessel by spurious figures.

As such, even where the certificate states that cargoes are safe to load, masters and their officers must always be vigilant in monitoring the condition of the cargo as it comes onboard. Different stockpiles of cargo can have different characteristics so vigilance throughout the duration of loading operations is necessary.

Should a dispute arise over the properties of the cargo to be loaded we recommend that Members consider appointing an independent surveyor/expert to assist the master. In such circumstances Members should contact the Association for advice.

Sampling and Testing of Cargo:-

Sampling and testing procedures for bulk cargoes that may liquefy should be carried out to international standards such as the test procedures described in Appendix 2 of the IMSBC Code.

Flow Moisture Point (FMP) and Transportable Moisture Limit (TML):

Flow Moisture Point – the maximum water content, expressed as a percentage, at which a sample of cargo will begin to lose shear strength. Cargoes with moisture content beyond FMP may be liable liquefy.

Transportable Moisture Limit – is defined as 90% of the FMP when used in conjunction with the Flow Table Test (FTT) and Penetration Test. The modified Proctor Fagerberg test method can be used to determine the TML of iron ore fines.

From the ship operators and master’s perspective the important figures for the laboratory to determine are the TML of a representative sample of the cargo to be loaded and its actual moisture content. It is a requirement of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) that the average moisture content of any type of granular cargo in any cargo space must not be higher than the TML.

In order to find the TML, the laboratory must first determine the FMP of the sample using one of the prescribed techniques.

For the Modified Proctor Fagerberg test there is no FMP, the vessel will only be provided with a TML.

Loading a cargo above, at or near its FMP represents an unacceptably high risk for vessels and for this reason a safety margin is allowed – this gives the TML.

After determining the FMP the moisture content of the cargo is obtained by drying samples of the cargo in accordance with Section 4.6.4 of the Code. If the moisture content of the cargo sampled is below the TML then, on the face of it the cargo should be safe to load. However, there is no way for the vessel’s operators or master to determine whether or not the sampling and testing procedures used by shippers are adequate and/or accurate.

Can Test:

In order that the vessel can make its own assessment of the likelihood of the cargo to liquefy section 8 of the IMSBC Code describes a shipboard method known as the “can test”. This involves filling a small can with the material and repeatedly banging it on a hard surface.

The appearance of the material at the end of the test can be used to form an opinion regarding the suitability of the material for shipment. This test should not be a substitute for proper laboratory testing using an appropriate methodology. However, if can tests carried out on a cargo presented for loading indicate a propensity for liquefaction, this is a major warning sign that the cargo as a whole may be unsafe for carriage.

Flow Moisture Point (FMP) and Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) - Result Can Test
Result of Can Test

Expert advice should then be sought. Where shippers present significant amounts of material that fails the can test (a failed can test with an iron ore fines cargo is pictured), this is an indication that the cargo as a whole may be unsafe, and that any certification to the contrary may be flawed. It should also be borne in mind that a negative result from the can test (i.e. no free moisture or fluid condition is seen) does not necessarily mean that the cargo is safe for shipment.

Liquefaction Process:

  • In fine grained moisture laden cargo the spaces between cargo grains are filled with both air and water. Whilst at sea the cargo is subject to forces due to the vibration and rolling of the vessel.
  • These forces cause the inter-grain spaces to contract. The water in the spaces between grains is subject to a compressive force but as it is a liquid it cannot be compressed.
  • This has the effect of reducing the inter-grain frictional force that holds the cargo in a solid state. Where enough moisture is present the reduction in inter-grain friction due to the ship’s motion and vibration can be sufficient to cause the cargo flow like a liquid i.e. to liquefy.

Hazards associated with carriage of Iron Ore Fines:-

  • No special Hazards.
  • This cargo is non-combustible or has a low fire-risk.
  • Iron ore cargoes may affect magnetic compasses.
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Coal in a Bulk Carrier

Hazards associated with Coal:

  1. Spontaneous heating
  2. Emission of Methane
  3. Corrosion
  4. Liquefaction  

Special precautions for handling Bulk Coal – IMSBC code guideline:-

Loading bulk coal: The IMO Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes includes detailed recommendations for the safe loading and carriage of coal cargo. It states that coal may heat spontaneously and that some coals may be liable to self-heating which could lead to spontaneous combustion. The section ‘General requirements for all coals’ stresses the most important advice for the safe loading and carriage of coal:

Cargo temperature is to be monitored (not more than 40c deg), the methane content to be monitored (not excess of 10% of the LEL). In this respect, please be guided that your vessel is provided with the necessary instruments to calibrate.

The ship shall be kept upright during loading of this cargo. This cargo shall be so trimmed to the boundaries of the cargo space that the angle of the surface of the cargo with horizontal plane does not exceed 25 deg. This cargo shall be kept as dry as practicable. This cargo shall not be handled during precipitation. During handling of this cargo, all non-working hatches of the cargo spaces into which the cargo is loaded or to be loaded shall be closed.

Vessels shipping coal should at all times carry on board instruments for measuring methane, oxygen and carbon monoxide gas concentrations, so that the atmosphere within the cargo space can be monitored. The instrument should be regularly serviced and calibrated so that it can provide the crewmembers with reliable data about the atmosphere within the cargo space. Care needs to be exercised in interpreting methane measurements carried out in the low oxygen concentrations often found in unventilated cargo holds.

The catalytic sensors normally used to detect methane rely on the presence of sufficient oxygen for accurate measurement. This phenomenon does not affect the measurement of carbon monoxide or measurement of methane by infrared sensor. However, additional guidance should be sought from the manufacturer of the instrument.

An instrument required for measuring methane, oxygen and carbon monoxide concentrations should be fitted with an aspirator, flexible connection and a length of tubing, thus enabling a representative sample to be obtained from within the square of the hatch.

Stainless steel tubing approximately 0.5m in length and 6mm nominal internal diameter with an integral stainless steel threaded collar is often preferred. The collar is necessary to provide an adequate seal at the sampling point.

A suitable filter should be used to protect the instrument against the ingress of moisture as recommended by the manufacturer. The presence of even a small amount of moisture would compromise the accuracy of the measurement.

Avoid all unnecessary handling, even the removal of wet clothing. If handling is necessary, then it should be as gentle as possible. Enclose the survivor in a plastic bag or blankets or preferably both. It is important that the head, but not the face, is well covered. Place in a warm area with a temperature not exceeding 22øC. Never attempt to give any fluids by mouth to an unconscious casualty.

Bilge precautions: Bilge wells shall be clean, dry and covered as appropriate, to prevent ingress of the cargo.

Weather precautions: Unless the vessel is specially constructed, the Moisture content of the cargo shall be kept less that TML during voyage.

Stowage & segregation: This Cargo shall be separate from goods of classes 1,2,3,4,5 n IMDG

Ventilation: Following the special precautions in IMDG.

Hold cleanliness: Clean and Dry as relevant to the hazards of the cargo.

Special Precautions

  • Coal emitting methane
  • Self-heating coals
  • Gravity-field self-unloading bulk carrier

Ventilation methods for bulk cargo against ship sweat or cargo sweat:-

Many cargo claims arise due to lack of ventilation of the cargo, particularly agricultural products. A common procedure for ventilating hatches at sea is to `crack’ them open.

Considerable care must be taken during this procedure as the ships hatch tops are not designed to be opened during any rolling motion. When such hatches are opened they must not be left in the jacked up position, but should be lowered onto the compression bars and locked into position.

Under no circumstances should the hatches be left open at night while on passage. A lack of, or improper, ventilation can lead to condensation (also known as sweating), which causes cargo deterioration. There are two types of sweat:

Cargo Sweat:

Cargo Sweat

Condensation occurs on the surface of the cargo as warm, moist air enters the cargo hold containing a cold cargo. For example, if a cargo of steel is loaded in winter in the UK for discharge in Singapore, the temperature of the cargo will be low. If warm moist air is later introduced in the cargo hold, condensation takes place as soon as it comes into contact with cold cargo. To avoid the possibility of cargo sweat, all ventilators should be closed and no ventilation carried out. However, if the moisture content of the cargo is high, extraction of the moist air from within the cargo holds may be required.

Ship Sweat:

Ship Sweat

This results when condensation occurs on the ship’s structure as the ship becomes colder moving from a hot to a cold climate. The warm moist air within the cargo compartment condenses as it comes into contact with the cold structure of the vessel. For ship sweat to occur, the dew point in the cargo hold must exceed the temperature of the ship’s structure. To eliminate ship sweat the cargo should be ventilated if the vessel is moving from a warm to a cold climate. Cargoes can be:

Hygroscopic: mainly agricultural products containing natural moisture. They may absorb, retain or release moisture, depending upon the surrounding atmosphere. Examples include grains. On a voyage from cold to hot region these type of cargo need no ventilation and from hot to cold region surface ventilation needed.

Non-Hygroscopic: solid cargoes. However, these cargoes are very likely to be damaged by cargo sweating. To avoid cargo damage no ventilation required

Air is said to be saturated if it can no longer absorb any moisture. If it is then cooled it will start to cause condensation. The temperature this occurs at is known as the dew point temperature.

To determine the amount of moisture in the air (the relative humidity), a wet and dry bulb thermometer is used in an instrument known as a `hygrometer’. It is important to ensure a flow of air across the two thermometers in a hygrometer to obtain correct readings. In a cargo hold where there is no air flow, a whirling hygrometer is used to measure the two temperatures. A table is then used to find the relative humidity at the time of observation. If proper ventilation procedures are not followed moisture damage is likely. Any shipper’s instructions should be complied with and the following factors considered:

Ensure that the shipper’s declaration contains sufficient information about the cargo, particularly moisture content, TML and ventilation requirements, particularly if the commodity is not normally carried or the areas of trade are uncommon:

  • Claims for moisture damage to cargo can only be defended if supported by properly maintained documentation. It is critical that records of hold temperatures, humidity and durations of ventilation are maintained.
  • The dew point temperature of the cargo hold and outside air should be compared. If the outside dew point temperature is lower or equal to that within the cargo hold, then ventilation should be continued. Since measurement of temperature in a cargo hold filled with bulk cargo may not always be possible, a comparison should be made between the temperature of cargo at the time of loading and the outside temperature. If the dry bulb temperature of the outside air is 3 degrees or more higher than the cargo temperature, continue ventilation.
  • Ventilation not only serves to control sweating, it can control the gases or odours emitted from cargo.
  • If seawater spray or rain enters the cargo holds, all ventilation should be stopped and times noted until conditions change to allow resumption of ventilation.
  • Ventilation should be continued even at night if required.
  • If circumstances allow there should be regular inspection of the cargo space for any signs of condensation, eg on the underside of the hatch access covers. If condensation is found, ventilation should be continued
  • a record of cargo hold temperature and ventilation should be kept.