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Introduction To Bulk Carriers And Cargo Operations Engineering Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Engineering
Wordcount: 4936 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Introduction to Bulk Carriers

Bulk Carriers are designed primarily for the transportation of solid bulk cargoes. Leading bulk cargoes are coal, iron ore, phosphate, nitrate and grains such as wheat. The carriage of cargo in bulk reduces packaging costs and loading and unloading operations can be speeded up. In many cases bulk cargoes are found in countries away from where they are required.

Bulk carriers are built to various sizes and classified as Handymax/Panamax/Cape-sized bulkers etc. They also vary in types like geared bulkers, self-unloaders, combination carriers etc.

Bulk carriers today form a high percentage of world trade. Bulk cargoes carried by them are subject to hazards because of which there are various codes in place for the safety of operating Bulk Carriers. They comprise of the BC Code, International Code for the Safe Carriage of Grain in Bulk (International Grain Code).  Like the original grain rules, the Code is to prevent the particular qualities of grain threatening the stability of ships when it is carried in bulk.  

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The revised BC Code deals with types of cargoes which may liquefy, materials which possess chemical hazards, and materials which fall into neither of these categories but may nevertheless pose other dangers.  The Code highlights dangers associated with certain types of cargoes giving information on their properties and how to handle them. Various test procedures are stated as well to determine properties of the cargo.

The Code also lays importance on how cargoes should be properly distributed so as not to overstress the structure and maintain an adequate standard of stability.

All bulk cargoes when loaded have an angle or repose which determines if the cargo is prone to shift. Unlike high dense cargoes such as iron ore cargoes like grain have a low angle of repose whereby the code states precautions to take so that the cargo movement does not affect the vessels stability.

For cargoes with low angle of repose, the Code states that such cargoes should be trimmed reasonably and the holds should be filled fully as far as possible without resulting in excessive weight on the supporting structure.

The trimming also helps to cut oxidation by reducing the surface area exposed to the atmosphere thus preventing spontaneous combustion.

The code states dangers related with different types of cargoes, like some cargoes are liable to oxidation where as others may emit toxic fumes without oxidation or when wet.  The code gives details of precautions that should be taken for these types of cargoes.

The Code also gives details of the various sampling procedures and tests which should be used before transporting concentrates and similar materials and also recommended test procedures to be used by laboratories. A list of cargoes, which may liquefy is contained in appendix A to the Code, while appendix B gives an extensive list of materials possessing chemical hazards.  Appendix C deals with bulk cargoes which are neither liable to liquefy nor possess chemical hazards.  More detailed information concerning test procedures, associated apparatus and standards, which are referred to in the Code are contained in appendix D.  Emergency Schedules for those materials listed in appendix B are contained in appendix E.  Recommendations for entering cargo spaces, tanks, pump rooms, fuel tanks and similar enclosed compartments are shown in appendix F.  Procedures for gas monitoring of coal cargoes are contained in appendix G.

Works Cited

Isbester, J (1993), Bulk Carrier Practice

IMO, (2004), BC Code

Ship/Shore Safety checklist for loading or unloading dry bulk cargo carriers


Port………………………….. Terminal/Quay…………………………..

Available depth of water in berth………..Minimum air draught…………….

Ship’s name……………………………….

Arrival draught (read/calculated)…….……………Air draught………..……..

Calculated departure draught……………………..Air draught………..……..

The master and terminal manager, or their representatives, should complete the checklist jointly. Advice on points to be considered is given in the accompanying guidelines. The safety of operations requires that all questions should be answered affirmatively and the boxes ticked. If this is not possible, the reason should be given, and agreement reached upon precautions should be taken between ship and terminal. If a question is considered to be not applicable write “N/A”, explaining why if appropriate.


Is the depth of the water at the berth,

And the air draught, adequate for the

Cargo operations to be completed?

Are mooring operations adequate for

all local effects of tide, current,

Weather, traffic and craft alongside?

In emergency, is the ship able to leave

the berth at any time?

Is there safe access between the

Ship and the wharf?

Tended by ship/terminal…………………

(cross out as appropriate)

Is the agreed ship or terminal

communications system operative?

Communication method…………………


Radio channels/phone numbers……….


Are the liaison contact persons during

operations positively identified?

Ship contact persons……………………

Shore contact person(s)………………..


Are adequate crew on board, and

adequate staff in the terminal, for


Have any bunkering operations been

advised and agreed?

Have any intended repairs to wharf or

ship whilst alongside been advised

and agreed?

Has a procedure for reporting and

recording damage from cargo

operations been agreed?

Has the ship been provided with copies

of port and terminal regulations,

including safety and pollution

requirements and details of

emergency services?

Has the shipper provided the master

with the properties of the cargo in

accordance with the requirements of

chapter VI of SOLAS?

13. Is the atmosphere safe in holds and

enclosed spaces to which access may

be required, have fumigated cargoes

been identified, and has the need

for monitoring of atmosphere been

agreed by ship and terminal?

Have the cargo handling capacity

and any limits of travel for each

Loader/unloader been passed to

the ship/terminal?




Has a cargo loading or unloading plan

been calculated for all stages of loading

/deballasting or unloading/ballasting?

Copy lodged with……………………


Have the holds to be worked been clearly

identified in the loading or unloading plan,

showing the sequence of work, and the

grade and tonnage of cargo to be

transferred each time the hold is worked?

Has the need for trimming of cargo in

the holds been discussed, and have the

methods and extent been agreed?

Do both ship and terminal understand and

accept that if the ballast programme

becomes out of step with the cargo

operation, it will be necessary to suspend

cargo operation until the ballast operation

has caught up?

Have the intended procedure for removing

cargo residues lodged in the holds while

unloading, been explained to the ship

and accepted?

20. Have the procedures to adjust the final trim

of the loading ship been decided and


Tonnage held by the terminal

conveyer system……………………………

Has the terminal been advised of the time

required for the ship to prepare for sea, on

completion of cargo work?


Time……………………………… Date………………………………

For ship…………………………. For terminal……………………..

Rank…………………………….. Position/Title…………………….

Works Cited

IMO, (1998), BLU Code, pp.22-25


A natural hydrated calcium sulphate. Insoluble in water. It is loaded as a fine powder that aggregates into lumps. Average moisture content is 1% to 2%.


Angle of repose

Bulk density(kg/m3)

St. Factor (m3)


1282 to 1493

0.67 to 0.78




Up to 100mm




No special hazard.

This cargo is non-combustible or has a low fire-risk.

Hold cleanliness:

No special requirement.

Weather precautions:

This cargo is to be kept as dry as possible. It shall not be handled during precipitation. All non working holds in which the cargo is loaded or to be loaded to be kept closed.


Trim in accordance with sections 4 & 5 of the IMSBC CODE.


No special requirements.


No special requirements.


No special requirements.


No special requirements.

Clean up:

Prior to washing of this cargo, decks and cargo spaces should be shovelled and swept clean because washing of the cargo is difficult.

Loaded voyage

Hatch covers should be secured battened down for sea and water tight.

Booby hatches & holds ventilation flaps to be secured and should be water tight.

Works Cited

(2009), IMSBC Code, pp. 176

Information Provided by Shipper

Prior to loading of any cargo the shipper provides the master with information necessary for the safe planning and supervision of loading of the cargo. A declaration is made by the shipper related to the cargo in compliance with the recommendation of the BC Code. Along with the MSDS, information provided consists of:

Shippers name

Reference numbers


Description of cargo (type of material/particle size etc.)

Stowage factor

Specification of cargo (IMO class, Ems No. Etc.)

Angle of repose

Chemical properties

Relevant special properties of cargo

Additional certificates, if required such as TML and moisture content, exemption certificate etc.

Works Cited

IMO, (1998) BLU Code, pp. 32


1. Product Identification

Synonyms: Alabaster, Gypsum stone, Land plaster, Calcium Sulfate Dihydrate, Native calcium sulphate.

CAS No.: 13397-24-5

2. Composition/Information on Ingredients

Ingredient CAS No Percent Hazardous

————————————— ———— ———— ———

Gypsum 13397-24-5 90 – 99% No

3. Hazards Identification

Toxic – Harmful by inhalation (contains crystalline silica).

Mineral Formulae: CaSo42H2O

Emergency Overview


It is an off white, odourless powder. It is not combustible or explosive. Short term exposure to the powder poses no hazard.

Potential Health Effects



May causes irritation to the respiratory tract and choking depending on the degree of exposure.


Do not ingest. Small quantities are not known to be harmful but large quantities can cause an obstruction causing pain in the digestive tract.

Skin Contact:

May cause irritation, dry skin and discomfort.

Eye Contact:

May cause immediate or delayed irritation or inflammation. With large amounts it can cause eye irritation, redness. Eye exposure requires immediate first aid.

Chronic Exposure (inhalation):

The product contains crystalline silica which with prolonged or repeated inhalation can cause disabling and fatal lung disease.

Silicosis (prolonged inhalation of crystalline silica) increases risk of tuberculosis.

Some studies show an increased incidence of chronic kidney disease and end stage renal disease in workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica.

Medical Conditions aggravated by exposure:

Individuals with lung disease can cause aggregation by exposure.

4. First Aid Measures


Remove to fresh air. Seek medical attention for discomfort or if coughing.


Do not induce vomiting .If conscious have person drink plenty of water. Get medical attention.

Skin Contact:

Wash with cool water and mild skin detergent. Seek medical attention for rash, irritation and prolonged unprotected exposure to wet gypsum.

Eye Contact:

Immediately flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes, including lower eyelids. Seek medical attention for abrasions and burns.

5. Fire Fighting Measures


Poses no fire related hazard.

General Hazard:

Avoid breathing dust.

Fire Extinguishing Media:

Use any means suitable for extinguishing surrounding fire.

Fire fighting Equipment:

A SCBA is recommended to limit exposures to combustion products when fighting any fire.

6. Accidental Release Measures.

Put spilled material in a container. Avoid actions causing it to become airborne. Avoid inhalation and contact with skin. Wear appropriate PPE at all times. Do not wash gypsum down sewage and drainage systems.

7. Handling and Storage

General: Keep bulk gypsum dry until used. Engulfment hazard. To prevent burial or suffocation, do not enter confined space. Gypsum can build up or adhere to walls of confined space. It can release or fall unexpectedly. Do not stand on stockpiles of gypsum, they may be unstable.

Usage: Cutting, crushing, sanding or other crystalline silica bearing materials will release respirable crystalline silica.

Housekeeping: Avoid actions causing the gypsum to become airborne during clean up. Use all appropriate measures of dust control or suppression.

Clothing: Promptly remove and launder clothing that is dusty or wet with gypsum. Wash skin after exposure to gypsum.

8. Exposure Controls/Personal Protection

Engineering Controls:

Use local exhaust or other suppression methods to maintain dust levels.

Skin Protection:

Wear protective gloves, boot covers and clean body-covering clothing. Remove clothing and protective equipment that becomes saturated with wet gypsum and wash exposed areas.

Eye Protection:

Wear approved safety goggles when handling dust or wet gypsum to prevent contact with eyes. Wearing contact lenses under dust conditions is not recommended.

Respiratory Protection: Under ordinary conditions no respiratory protection is required. Wear a approved respirator when exposed to dust above exposure limits.

9. Physical and Chemical Properties


White or off-white powder.



Solubility in water:


Specific Gravity:

2.3 g/cm3



Boiling Point:

>1000 C

Freezing Point:

None, solid

Vapour Density


Vapour Pressure


Evaporation Rate


10. Stability and Reactivity


Stable. Avoid contact with incompatible materials.

Hazardous Decomposition:

Decomposes to sulphur oxide and calcium oxide above 1450 C

Hazardous Polymerization:



Gypsum is incompatible with acids. It contains silicates which may react with powerful oxidizers such as fluorine, chlorine trifluoride and oxygen difluoride.

11 and 12. Toxicological and Ecological Information

Refer to contact information provided.

13. Disposal Considerations

Dispose of waste and containers in compliance with applicable Federal, state, provincial and local regulations.

Works Cited

www.lafarge-na.com (Accessed: 16 November 2010)


On completion of discharge the mate decides on the procedure for cleaning of the holds on basis of time, manpower and next cargo to be loaded. Some cargoes require certain precautions in relation to cleaning of the holds. Gypsum on the other had requires no special preparation.

Prior to commencement of cleaning it should be ensured that minimum amount of cargo is left behind by the stevedores. In the early stages of discharge of cargo like wheat when there are interruptions crew members can be sent into the hold to clean positions high under the deck head which will not be accessible during the later stages. This should only be done when there is no cargo working in the hold and it has been ascertained that there is no risk to the crew members.

Before commencing work it should be ensured the cargo space is fully ventilated and a ‘Permit to Work’ obtained.

All crew to have proper PPE and safety equipment.

The holds are to be swept prior washing in a manner whereby creating minimum dust clouds. The bilges should be checked so that no cargo has gotten in to them and if required get out the cargo before the completion of discharge.

The stevedores should be requested to remove the sweepings gathered by the crew. If for reasons it is not possible it should then be stored in drums and kept ready for lifting by the ships cranes.

When it is clear and permissible(taking account of the weather) to use the ships cranes the sweepings should be hoisted from the holds and stored on deck until such time when it would be possible to tip it overboard.

Washing of holds is carried out by using sea water .Hand held hoses are used for this along with a water cannon. This combination uses compressed air to inject more pressure into the water from the mains. This provides a powerful jet which helps in better cleaning reaches high extremities of the holds. The washing sequence starts at the top of the holds and works down towards. Simultaneously a separate party of seamen will wash the hatch covers and comings with the help of hand held hoses. During this process the water should not be allowed to accumulate on the tank top. The bilges should be run continuously. A slight list to either side and maintaining a stern trim is the most effective method to aid in washing.

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Communication should be maintained with the bridge or the cargo control room to aid with the above. Once the higher extremities of the holds are washed the tank top is then hosed down to wash off the cargo residue and any dirt. The sounding pipes should also be flushed during washing as neglect of this over time causes the pipes to become blocked.

When the salt water washing is complete traces of salt remain on the surface of the hold. If this is allowed to remain it helps in corrosion and is also not acceptable by most surveyors which is why the holds should be rinsed with fresh water. This rinsing also aids in accelerating the drying process.

The drying of holds is usually carried out by natural ventilation, time permitting. If vessel is at sea and the waters are relatively calm the hatches can be opened up to speed up the process. The puddles formed by depressions in the tank top are sponged or mopped up by the crew. The water accumulated between the manhole surface and the lid will also have to be dried.

The hold bilges should be drained of the unpumpable water, cleaned along with the strum boxes and then dried as well.

Once the holds have dried an inspection should be carried out. Loose rust scales if found should be scrapped and cleared. Look for any cargo residue which may be spotted from the hold ladder high up. Bulk heads, tank tops are clean to touch. Look for any residues beneath manhole cover plates and behind pipes.

Outlets for the CO2 system should be checked to ensure they are not blocked.

If time permits DB tanks can be pressed up to check for any leakages in the holds. Holds to be also checked for damages in case they were missed out during discharge and if found recorded. Also if any maintenance as per the PMS or repair work needs to be carried out should be attended to, time permitting and recorded.

A chalk test or a hose test can be carried out to check the water tight integrity of the hatch covers and any repairs if required and then logged.

The final preparation would consist of resealing the manhole covers with duct tape. The bilge plate should be bur lapped and replaced to prevent the cargo from falling into the bilge. This system also allows the water to drain in the bilge.

In the hold used for heavy weather ballast the gaskets along with the bolting of the watertight cover plate over the ballast suction should be checked.

Works Cited

South Tyneside College Notes.

Isbester, J (1993), Bulk Carrier Practice



Is capable of self combustion due the gases given off.

Dust is a major factor as it can affect personnel on deck with regard to respiration and cause irritation if it goes into the eyes.

On exposure to wheat dust, personnel may also suffer from wheat rash.

It can also affect the ships ventilation system if proper filters are not in place.

The free flowing characteristics can reduce stability of a vessel caused by free surface effect (in partially filled holds) similar to liquids in partially filled tanks. Due to movement of the vessel the wheat is likely to shift to a side causing a list or even a possibility of capsizing the vessel.

In cases where wheat requires fumigation in the form of pellets, gases or sprays all personnel to be made aware of the poisonous characteristics they pose and precautions to be taken.


All personnel on deck during cargo operations to be donned with proper PPE at all times, including disposable dust masks and safety goggles.

Loading to be carried out as low as possible in holds to minimise dust.

Wheat cargo has to be kept dry at all times and any form of water ingress has to be avoided to prevent damage to the cargo.

As far as possible wheat should be avoided being loaded by partially filling holds.

Where a vessel has partially filled holds she should be trimmed level in order to prevent shift of cargo.

The surface of the partially filled holds should be secured by approved methods as mentioned in the IMO-grain rules. These methods used are strapping, lashing, saucering, over stowing and securing with wire mesh.

In case fumigation is to be carried out on board the master is to be provided about details and precautions to be taken. The spaces to be fumigated have to have warning signs displayed. It is to be carried out by competent shore personnel.

In cases where ships staffs presence is required during this operation, it has to be ensured that adequate respiratory protection is worn.

Ventilation is required to a great extent to prevent condensation and removal of heat.

The total weight of wheat should not exceed one-third of the ships deadweight.

GM of 0.30 meters to be maintained or as given by formulae in the BC Code, whichever is greater.

During discharge precautions to be taken by stevedores when using hydraulic equipment and grabs so that oil from such equipment does not damage the cargo.


This type of cargo is generally not classified as a hazardous cargo.

Airborne dust may cause irritation or inflammation to eyes.

It could be harmful by inhalation depending on the level and duration of exposure as it contains crystalline silica.

It could also cause skin discomfort to a certain level.

It poses an engulfment hazard are personnel are advised not to stand on stock piles.

It can also adhere to walls and can collapse and fall unexpectedly.


All personnel on deck during cargo operations to be donned with proper PPE at all times, including disposable dust masks and approved safety goggles.

Actions to be avoided which can cause gypsum to become airborne.

Bulk gypsum is to be kept dry until used as it tends to cake when in contact with water.

It is recommended not to wash gypsum down sewage and drainage systems.

Works Cited

www.lafarge-na.com (Accessed: 16 November 2010)

South Tyneside college notes

MCA, MGN 284 (M+F)

Swadi, D (2nd Edtn.), Cargo Notes

IMO, International Grain Code


In order to have any equipment or machinery working effectively on board vessels a Planned Maintenance System should be in place and in effect. From an inspection of this maintenance record it is easy to keep track of details like when was the maintenance done last, what was done, when is it due next, what materials are required, how many man hours etc.

The reason for this planning is so that we have the necessary tools, spares and consumables on board in advance prior to undertaking maintenance. The basic requirements of lifting plants are:-

To keep the equipment in safe and good working order

To maintain supporting documentation for the above.

The main aspects of lifting plant maintenance are:

Routine Inspection and Maintenance

In addition to statutory inspections routine inspections are to be carried out by a competent person to asses if the plant is safe for continued use looking for problems like:

Cracking at welds.

Damaged/Missing grease nipples.

Hydraulic oil leakage from motors.

Worn or damaged wires.


Missing markings.

Lack of greasing and oiling.

Defects to structure and fittings.

Swivels that may not be rotating freely.

Loose connection and gap between rails.

All maintenance is carried out as per manufacturer’s instructions which also specify the time period (e.g. Weekly, monthly, yearly and before and after use).Prior to operation all control units, alarms, limit switches and joysticks should be operated and checked. If the plant is in regular use checks required by the external surveys should be done more by ship’s competent staff more often than once a year, even thou regulations require only an annual survey.

Operation by Trained Personnel

All vessels lifting plant should be operated by trained and certified personnel to avoid damages and improper use of the equipment. Trained personnel should also be appointed to direct the plant operator using approved hand signals as contained in COSWP.

Testing Of Lifting Plant

As per the manufacturer’s instructions the testing and certification of the lifting plant should be carried out at maximum intervals of 5 years. This testing is initially carried out after manufacture and installation of the plant at the ship yard under supervision of a competent person from the ship yard. The test is carried out using an approved proof load exceeding the SWL as specified under the merchant shipping regulations.

This test is also required to be carried out if:

Any repairs or modifications have been done which is likely to affect the SWL or the strength or stability of the equipment.

Prior using any crane which has been idle for more than 6 months

If it has been involved in an accident or mishap.

Rigging Plan

The rigging plans should be available at times along with sufficient technical details like:

SWL of all fittings

A means of identification

Boom limiting angles

Instructions for replacing wires and sheaves

Dismantling procedures

Erection procedures

Certification and reports

The master is to ensure that a certificate is on board within 28 days of a statutory test or examination for at least 2 years following receipt of next certificate. They are to be kept readily available on board for any dock worker using the ships plant.

A register of lifting appliances along with items of loose gear are also kept on board.

Works Cited

Swadi, D (2009), Cargo Notes

Dickie & Short, Crane Hand book


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