Readiness of Ship Holds

Readiness of Ship Holds

Readiness of holds of a ship is the second important factor to start the laytime clock, after having been arrived ship at the agreed port. As long as the ship is not ready to start loading or discharging, laytime clock cannot start to run. In other words, ship must be:

  1. Physically Ready (for cargo operations)
  2. Legally Ready (all documents and permits)

Readiness of Ship Holds

Under English law, ship’s holds must be clean and dry, without odor. In every way, ship’s holds must be suitable to take, carry and discharge the cargo.

In the case of the Tres Flores (1973), a ship was chartered to load a cargo of maize. After the ship arrived and gave NOR (Notice of Readiness), hold inspection was delayed because of bad weather. When ship’s holds were inspected, ship’s holds were found to be infested with insects. Hence, fumigation was necessary for ship’s holds. Court of Appeal held that the ship was in breach of duty to present holds in every way fit to carry the cargo. Therefore, ship was not ready so laytime did not start. Shipowner was held responsible for all delays until a valid NOR (Notice of Readiness) could be given.

In the case of the Epaphus (1987), cargo on board of a ship was infested. Nevertheless, the ship’s readiness was unaffected as the infestation was most likely brought on board the ship with the cargo. The condition of the ship’s holds is important.

In some cases, different parcels of cargo are carried on the same voyage at the same time, but under different contracts. If ship has cargo which cannot be accessed until the cargo above has been discharged, the inaccessible cargo is referred to as over-stowed. NOR (Notice of Readiness) cannot be given regarding the over-stowed cargo until that cargo is accessible. Notwithstanding, it is not required that all the cargo stowed on top is discharged before a valid NOR (Notice of Readiness) can be tendered for the over-stowed cargo. Over-stowed cargo must simply be accessible and able to be worked.

Readiness of Ship Equipment

Under English law, besides readiness of ship’s holds, ship’s equipment and gear for loading or discharging must be ready on arrival at the agreed destination. Ship’s equipment such as cranes, hatches, pumps etc. must be available for use when required.

Ship’s equipment and gear need not be absolutely ready, but must be in a state so that it can be made ready and available for use when required. For instance, in the case of Armement Adolf Deppe v Robinson (1917), it was pronounced that ship’s hatches need not be opened if a ship is waiting for a berth.

In the case of the Virginia M (1989), the ship arrived without sufficient fresh water for the boilers to work ship’s steam winches. Ship was able to discharge some but not all the cargo. Court held that the NOR (Notice of Readiness) was invalid since the ship would have to stop discharging in order to take on fresh water so waiting time for berthing, in receiving a supply of fresh water, would not count as laytime. Court’s decision might have been different if the ship could have taken water on at the same time as discharging, therefore discharge would not be interrupted.

Occasionally, tankers require to de-ballast during loading/discharging to be able to take/deliver cargo. When de-ballasting and loading is accomplished simultaneously, there is often a dispute about readiness of the ship and Segregated Ballast Tankers. In Segregated Ballast Tankers (SBTs) the ballast tanks, pumps and lines are totally separated Segregated Ballast Tankers (SBTs) from the cargo system. Hence, there should be no interruption to cargo operations. Prior to the introduction of oil cargo would have been loaded into tanks that would, on arrival, contain ballast water. Ballast water was required for the purpose of stability and charterers would not be able to claim that the ship was not ready because all the tanks were not available. Practically, loading would commence in the empty tanks whilst de-ballasting took place and even though there was a delay because of de-ballasting, it would be groundless to claim that the ship was not ready.

Ship Hold Cleaning Standards

In the Bulk trade there are essentially five types of Ship Hold Cleaning Standards:

  1. Hospital Clean
  2. Grain Clean
  3. Normal Clean
  4. Shovel Clean
  5. Dry Sweep
  6. Load on top

As it may be clear, the hospital clean is the highest standard of cleaning while the load on top is the lowest.

1- Hospital Clean: Hospital cleanliness represents the epitome of stringent cleaning standards. It necessitates the preservation of a flawless paint coating on all surfaces within the holds, encompassing the tank top, ladder rungs, and undersides of hatches.

This level of cleanliness is mandated for cargoes such as kaolin/china clay, mineral sands like zircon, barytes, rutile sand, ilmenite, fluorspar, chrome ore, soda ash, rice in bulk, and high-quality wood pulp. Typically, only vessels engaged exclusively in the transportation of such cargoes can meet these elevated standards. The need for hospital clean conditions rarely arises in the tramp trades.

2- Grain Clean: This represents the most prevalent requirement. As the name implies, grain cleanliness pertains to the standard of cleaning necessary for grain cargoes. For the majority of bulk and break bulk cargoes, including all types of grains, soya meal and related products, alumina, sulphur, bulk cement, bauxite, concentrates, and bulk fertilizers, a ship must meet the grain clean criteria. The National Cargo Bureau (NCB) provides an accepted definition for grain clean:

“Compartments must be impeccably clean, dry, devoid of odors, and free from gases. All loose scale must be eliminated.”

Based on the definition of grain clean, we can deduce the following:

  • All remnants of previous cargoes and securing materials (if any) must be removed from the hold.
  • Any loose paint or rust scale must be eradicated.
  • The hold must be completely dry after washing and before loading.
  • The hold must be well-ventilated and devoid of any odors.
  • The hold should pass the ‘white glove test,’ where no visible residues are transferred onto a white cloth when rubbed against the hold surface.

3- Normal Clean: Normal clean signifies that the holds have been thoroughly swept to remove any residues from the previous cargo and subsequently washed down, depending on the requirements of the charterer. This level of cleanliness is adequate for the loading of similar or compatible cargoes with the previous shipment.

4- Shovel Clean: Shovel clean denotes the removal of all previous cargo that can be eliminated using a ‘Bobcat’ or through a rough sweep and clean performed by stevedores or the crew using shovels.

5- Dry Sweeping: Dry sweeping involves the meticulous sweeping of all accessible areas, including ladders and hoppers, as well as the tank top. It ensures the complete elimination of visible residues from the previous cargo.

6- Load on Top: In the load on top standard, cargo is loaded on top of existing cargo residues. Typically, this requires a “grab clean” approach. This standard is frequently required when a ship is engaged in continuous trading of the same commodity and grade over an extended period, as observed in a Contract of Affreightment. In such cases, there is no commercial necessity to clean the holds between successive cargoes, and each cargo is simply loaded on top of any remaining residues from the previous shipment. Guidance may be necessary for the master regarding cleaning requirements, including the involvement of bulldozers and cleaning gangs.

In all instances, the Ship Master, in consultation with the Owners, should request clear information from the Charters regarding the required standard of hold cleanliness for the planned cargo. This knowledge not only saves time but also ensures the effective mobilization of resources, particularly when time is of the essence.


Readiness of Ship Holds

The readiness of ship holds refers to the preparation and maintenance required for these areas to accommodate cargo. Proper preparation is essential not only for ensuring the integrity of the cargo but also for maintaining the structural safety of the ship. This readiness can be examined in a few different areas:

  1. Cleanliness: Before loading, ship holds must be thoroughly cleaned. This may include removal of rust, previous cargo residue, and any other contaminant that could potentially damage the cargo or interfere with its transport.
  2. Dryness: Moisture can lead to significant issues, including spoilage of cargo and the possibility of rusting the ship’s structure. Thus, ship holds should be thoroughly dried before loading.
  3. Structural Integrity: Regular inspections of the ship’s structure, particularly the hold, should be conducted. This helps to identify any potential weaknesses or damages that could pose a risk during cargo transport.
  4. Pest Control: Depending on the nature of the cargo, pest control measures may be required. This could include fumigation or other treatments to ensure that no pests are present that could damage the cargo or pose health hazards.
  5. Safety Equipment: The hold should be equipped with necessary safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and emergency exits. All safety equipment should be checked regularly to ensure it’s in working order.
  6. Cargo Securing Equipment: Depending on the type of cargo, certain securing equipment may be required. This equipment helps to keep the cargo stable during transport, reducing the risk of damage.
  7. Ventilation: Good ventilation is important in preventing condensation and maintaining the quality of certain types of cargo. The ship’s ventilation system should be checked regularly to ensure it’s working effectively.
  8. Temperature Control: For certain types of cargo, temperature control may be needed. Any temperature control systems should be thoroughly inspected to ensure they’re working properly.

By ensuring these areas are appropriately managed, the readiness of ship holds can be maintained. This not only ensures the safety and integrity of the cargo but also extends the lifespan of the ship itself.


Ship Cargo Holds Readiness and Maintenance

It is of paramount importance that the entirety of the vessel’s cargo holds are upheld to the highest conceivable standard, so as to ensure that the vessel is constantly in a state that enables her to transport any bulk commodity.

While it is the duty of the Chief Officer to oversee the execution of maintenance tasks within the cargo holds whenever feasible, it ultimately falls upon the Master to regularly inspect these compartments.

The report must remain impartial, refraining from any endeavor to falsely assert the satisfactory condition of the holds. This information will frequently serve to secure future charters for the vessel and may be verified during visits by representatives of the company.

Should empty holds be accessible for maintenance purposes and you deem it feasible to undertake improvement work, please always notify the Company of your intended course of action. Under no circumstances should any upgrading tasks be carried out in a hold containing any form of cargo. Numerous claims have been brought against Owners for cargo damage caused by contamination from rust, paint, and grease, even when no apparent harm was evident at the time.

Furthermore, any application of paint preceding the loading of cargo must be done with ample time to allow for sufficient drying and hardening periods prior to the commencement of loading.


Ship Cargo Holds Inspection and Safety

During customary examinations of cargo holds conducted by the Master and Chief Officer, paramount consideration should be devoted to safety facets, including the state of hold ladders, handrails, and platforms. Numerous injuries have arisen due to imperfections in these components, leading to inevitable delays in vessel operations as dock workers and port officials decline entry into these areas on account of such flaws. Furthermore, careful attention ought to be paid to observation points encircling the hatch coamings and hold entrances, which must always be maintained in impeccable condition, devoid of any obstructions.

At all times, utmost regard must be accorded to personal safety when undertaking cleansing, maintenance, and inspection tasks within the holds.

The occurrence of toxic gases or oxygen deprivation can arise on board dry cargo vessels within the cargo holds, particularly when the space has remained sealed for a prolonged period without ventilation. The following are a few causes of oxygen deficiency or hazardous atmospheres:

  1. The formation of rust scale in ballast tanks depletes the oxygen content in the surrounding atmosphere.
  2. The space can become filled with noxious fumes emitted by cargoes such as:
    • Coal cargo, releasing methane and carbon monoxide, which rapidly deplete oxygen levels;
    • Other bulk cargoes like iron ore, grain, and tapioca, also consuming oxygen;
    • Organic cargoes like fishmeal, when damp or wet, may ferment and emit hydrogen sulfide.
  3. The hold may harbor fumigants.

Therefore, any entry into cargo holds must undergo a risk assessment and adhere to enclosed space entry protocols.

Access points to cargo holds must be labeled as “Enclosed Spaces,” and the Enclosed Space Entry Kit should be employed to indicate which areas have been examined and verified as safe for access.

The identification of enclosed spaces that stevedores may require access to during cargo operations should be agreed upon during the ship/shore safety meeting.

During customary examinations of cargo holds by the Master and Chief Officer, particular attention should be directed towards safety aspects, including the condition of hold ladders, handrails, and platforms. Many injuries have resulted from deficiencies in these elements, inevitably leading to delays in vessel operations when dock workers and port officials refuse entry due to such imperfections.

Furthermore, observance of the observation points encircling the hatch coamings and hold entrances, which must consistently remain in pristine condition and unobstructed, is of utmost importance.


Ship Cargo Holds and Stevedore Damage

Damage caused by stevedores must be meticulously documented in accordance with the relevant provisions in the charter party. It is imperative to carry out this task within the specified time limits, preferably promptly upon the occurrence or discovery of damage.

Immediate notification should be given to all relevant parties, including charterers, stevedores, agents, managers, and others. This report should contain as much available information as possible to aid in potential claims against a third party.

Furthermore, it is the duty of the Master to impress upon the Officer in charge of cargo watch the significance of exercising utmost diligence in relation to damages caused by stevedores or cargo. Such damages should be promptly reported to the Chief Officer, who will then initiate the necessary damage reports.

The Ship Master is responsible for notifying the concerned parties and obtaining an acknowledgment of receipt for the damage report from said parties.


Ship Cargo Holds and Crew Protection

All ships allocated for the transportation of hazardous chemicals in large quantities must possess appropriate defensive apparatus and attire aboard, intended to safeguard the crew engaged in the handling of cargo and the cleansing of tanks. The specific kinds and volumes of defensive gear, along with any supplementary safety equipment, must meticulously adhere to the stipulations outlined in the IBC/BCH Code.

Every vessel transporting perilous cargoes is obliged to carry aboard medical first-aid provisions, encompassing respiratory revival equipment and remedies for the substances being transported, in accordance with the guidelines prescribed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Medical First Aid Guide (MFAG), and the International Medical Guide for Ships (IMGS) published by the World Health Organization (WHO).


Ship Cargo Holds and Ship Masters’ Duties

The Ship Master shall receive voyage directives as an integral part of the charterparty agreement. Ship Master shall be advised to present his vessel at a port within a laycan that may necessitate the cleansing of the ship’s holds to a specific standard. The standard set forth in the voyage instructions or charterparty ought to be lucid and unequivocal.

Moreover, these instructions should fall within the capabilities of the ship and the resources available onboard. In the event that compliance with the instructions becomes unfeasible due to factors such as time constraints or adverse weather conditions, it is incumbent upon the captain to promptly notify the shipowners and charterers, enabling them to make alternative arrangements.

The Ship Master bears the responsibility of delivering the cargo in a condition that appears identical to its state at the time of loading.

Under no circumstances should the Ship Master yield to the temptation of taking risks in order to fulfill the charterparty instructions if doing so jeopardizes the safety of the vessel or its personnel.

Whenever there is a requirement to achieve a stringent or elevated level of cleanliness during loading, the Ship Master with generally subpar to moderate hold conditions should exercise heightened vigilance in reporting the nature of the hold’s condition to the shipowners.

Elevating a cargo hold’s condition from poor to a level adequate for receiving grain cargo demands a significant amount of time and resources. This task should not be underestimated, as failure to comply may result in hold failure, cargo contamination claims, and breaches of charterparty terms.

The Ship Master should:

  • Seek clarification of instructions, if needed.
  • Ensure that he is well-informed about the extent of the required cargo hold cleaning.
  • Verify the availability of appropriate equipment and materials onboard.
  • Inform the charterers of the schedule and progress of cargo hold cleaning.
  • Maintain records documenting the progress of hold cleaning, including weather conditions and work logs.
  • Consider sending photographs of the cleaned holds to the charterers and owners upon completion or in case of any difficulties, as this can be of assistance.


Special emphasis is placed on the marine personnel assigned to operate on bulk carriers, particularly those serving on aging vessels. It is imperative to meticulously inspect the structural integrity of the cargo holds, paying close attention to indications of fractures, cracks, or corrosion in the plating or frames. The publication Index by Lloyds Register provides a comprehensive guide on the locations to inspect and the specific aspects to assess. Ship Masters must ensure their familiarity with these guidelines and promptly communicate them to the crew members on board.


Readiness of Ship Holds and NOR (Notice of Readiness) Case

The recent pronouncement in the London Arbitration 13/19 emphasizes the significance of presenting the notice of readiness (NOR) promptly upon the arrival of the vessel, particularly when it is deemed an “arrived ship.” Additionally, it underscores the imperative for the Master to be cognizant of any clause in the charterparty that might nullify a NOR.

Case Details:

The vessel was leased by the disponent owners (“Owners”) from the head-owners for a singular charter voyage, commencing from South West Pass and concluding at a secure Moroccan port. The vessel was sub-chartered based on a modified Norgrain 89 format (“Charterparty”) for transporting a cargo of soya meal and soya beans from Myrtle Grove.

The Charterparty stipulated:

Clause 18(a): “[“Notice of Readiness to be tendered whether in berth or not/whether in port or not/whether custom cleared or not/whether in free pratique or not via cable/telex/vhf/within office hours: At load port … 07:00:16:00 …”]”; and

Clause 18(b): “”If the vessel is prevented from entering the limits of the loading/discharging port(s) because the first or sole loading /discharging berth or a lay berth or anchorage is not available within the port limits or on the order of the Charterers … or any competent official body or authority, and the Master warrants that the vessel is physically ready in all respects to load or discharge, the Master may tender vessel’s notice of readiness, by radio if desired, from the usual anchorage outside the limits of the port, whether in free pratique or not, whether customs cleared or not. If after entering the limits of the loading port, vessel fails to pass inspections as per Clause 18(e) any time so lost shall not count as laytime or time on demurrage from the time vessel fails to pass inspections [up to USDA and/or FGIS and/or NCB and/or Shippers Surveyor satisfaction the Notice of Readiness to be considered not valid and Master shall tender valid notice of readiness after vessel passing inspection all time prior to vessel acceptance will not be considered as laytime.]”

The ship reached South West Pass and submitted the Notice of Readiness (NOR) via email at 01:15 on 24th August. At 01:40, the vessel entered the Mississippi River and underwent a change of pilots at Pilottown at 03:15. It then dropped anchor at Point Celeste Anchorage at 07:32 while awaiting a berth.

By 09:00, an inspector from the National Cargo Bureau (NCB) deemed the cargo holds unsuitable due to the presence of rust and paint scale on the hatch covers. However, at 10:00, an inspector from the United States Bureau of Agriculture approved the holds for loading.

The involved parties had mutually agreed upon a customized provision, known as Clause 77, which stated:

“The cargo holds of the vessel, upon arrival at the loading port, must be impeccably clean, swept, dried, free from loose paint or rust scale, devoid of any residues from the previous voyage, and entirely prepared to accommodate the designated cargo to the satisfaction of an independent surveyor appointed by the shippers. In the event that the vessel fails the hold inspection, the owners are responsible for arranging the necessary cleaning at their own cost and time. The Notice of Readiness will not be considered valid, and the Master must submit a revised Notice of Readiness after the vessel successfully passes the inspection and gains approval from the ship’s surveyors.”

At 17:00, the National Cargo Bureau (NCB) granted approval for loading the cargo holds, and at 18:10, the Charterers’ representative delivered the approval for berthing, along with the National Cargo Bureau (NCB) and USDA certificates of compliance, the NOR, and a check for docking charges to the loading terminal.

On 25th August, the USCG implemented the Maritime Hurricane Contingency Port plan in anticipation of Tropical Storm Isaac. Unfortunately, the storm caused the vessel to run aground, leading the Charterers to declare force majeure. The vessel was eventually refloated on 15th September and remained on standby from 17th September, notably after the laycan deadline had expired on 2nd September.

On 3rd October, the Charterers communicated that the NOR submitted on 24th August was deemed invalid due to the following reasons:

(a) The vessel had not actually arrived at the port.

(b) The vessel was not fully prepared for loading in all respects.

Consequently, they exercised their right under Clause 4 to terminate the Charterparty, asserting that the vessel’s NOR had not been “tendered and accepted as per Clause 18 before [23:59] hrs on the [2nd] day of September,” which was considered a substantial breach by the Owners. The Owners claimed USD 906,712.21 for demurrage, forfeited bunkers, and loss of profit, while the Charterers counterclaimed USD 1,797,182.82.

Tribunal Decision:

The Tribunal concurred that the Notice of Readiness (NOR) submitted on 24 August was deemed invalid. If there were no available berths or river anchorages upon the vessel’s arrival at the South West Pass, rendering further progression impossible, the Tribunal would have acknowledged the validity of the NOR in accordance with clause 18(b). However, the vessel merely lingered at the South West Pass momentarily, solely to acquire a pilot for the transit to Pilottown. At this juncture, the vessel did not qualify as an “arrived ship,” as it could venture further upstream and remained beyond the immediate control of the charterer. In order for the NOR to be considered valid, the Master would have been required to wait until the vessel was anchored at Point Celeste.

Considering that the holds did not meet the requirements set by the National Cargo Bureau (NCB) inspection, even if the NOR tendered at South West Pass had not been premature, it would still be invalid under clauses 18(b) and 77 of the charter. The Master was obligated to submit a fresh NOR once the holds had been approved by the National Cargo Bureau (NCB), which he failed to do so. However, following the approval of the holds for loading, the agents included an invalid NOR among the documents presented to the loading terminal. The Tribunal deemed this action as Charterers’ waiver of the necessity for a new NOR and held them estopped from requiring such.

Consequently, it was inferred that the Charterers had accepted the validity of the NOR, at least from the moment it was submitted to the terminal at 18:10 on 24 August, subsequent to the National Cargo Bureau’s (NCB) approval of the holds at 17:00. Given the circumstances, the Tribunal agreed with the Owners that the Charterers forfeited their right to terminate the vessel’s contract and, by attempting to cancel, had committed a breach of a repudiatory nature.

Case Commentary:

The Ship Master and Shipowners should exercise diligence in adhering to the precise stipulations for Notices of Readiness (NORs) agreed upon in their specific charterparty. If the Master harbors any uncertainty, it would be prudent for them to submit additional NORs, without undermining any previously served NOR (Notices of Readiness).

In general, Notices of Readiness (NORs) cannot be validly issued before the vessel qualifies as an “arrived ship,” indicating that the vessel must have reached the designated location, explicitly or implicitly specified in the charterparty. Under a berth charter, the vessel will not be deemed arrived until it reaches the designated or nominated berth within a named port. In the case of a port charterparty, the common law requirement is twofold:

  1. If the ship cannot immediately proceed to a berth, it must have arrived at a position within the port where vessels usually wait.
  2. The vessel must be immediately and effectively under the control of the charterers.

While these fundamental principles generally apply, they can be subject to modification through specific provisions such as “whether in berth or not” (WIBON), “whether in port or not” (WIPON), or a “reachable on arrival” clause within the charterparty.

It is customary for masters to submit Notices of Readiness (NORs) upon reaching the first pilot station at the conclusion of the sea passage. However, the Tribunal in London Arbitration 13/19 criticized this “misconception,” emphasizing that a Ship Master should always ensure that the Notices of Readiness (NOR) is presented when the vessel qualifies as an “arrived ship.” In this context, it means that the vessel has navigated as far upriver as possible and is immediately available for the charterer’s disposal. The cases of The Maratha Envoy and the Agamemnon serve as historical examples illustrating that this issue is not novel.

In The Maratha Envoy case, the charterer designated Brake, a river port on the Weser, as the loading port. However, upon the vessel’s arrival, no berths were available, and it was instructed to remain at the Weser light, the customary waiting area for vessels due to the absence of suitable anchorages on the river, located 25 miles downstream from Brake. The vessel made several voyages upriver to Brake, where it presented notice of readiness, but subsequently returned to the anchorage. The judge characterized these maneuvers as “voyages of convenience,” which did not qualify the vessel as an “arrived ship.”

The facts of the Agamemnon case bear a distinct resemblance to the present case, as it was determined that a Notices of Readiness (NOR) given at the South West Pass, a customary waiting area for vessels intending to enter the Mississippi River en route to upriver ports (in this case, Baton Rouge), was not a valid notice. This ruling was due to the fact that Baton Rouge had its own anchorage, approximately 170 miles from the South West Pass, rendering the vessel ineligible as an “arrived ship.”

Fortunately for Owners in the London Arbitration 13/19 case, an otherwise invalid Notices of Readiness (NOR) was deemed valid. The Tribunal observed that neither party had taken appropriate action, and while Charterers’ silence alone should not be given significant weight, when combined with the agents submitting the Notices of Readiness (NOR) along with the required documents and Shipowners’ reliance on such conduct, the original Notices of Readiness (NOR) was considered accepted.

Both the Shipowner and the Ship Master should always ensure they are cognizant of any charterparty provisions that may invalidate the Notices of Readiness (NOR), including the permissible location for issuing the Notices of Readiness (NOR). The master must ensure that the Notices of Readiness (NOR) is resubmitted once the specified breach has been rectified.


Evaluating Defects and Damage to Ship Cargo Holds

The maintenance of protective coatings within cargo holds and water ballast tanks holds great importance. Hence, it is imperative that the ship’s deck officers thoroughly inspect the cargo holds and deck areas upon the conclusion of cargo operations. This inspection aims to identify any indications of physical damage, corrosion, or coating deterioration to the vessel’s structure.

Whenever hull damage is detected, particularly if it jeopardizes the integrity of the hull structure and seaworthiness of the ship, it must be promptly reported to the classification society.

The internal structure of cargo holds, along with the protective coatings in the cargo hold and adjoining double bottom spaces, are susceptible to harm when discharging cargo using grabs. These grabs are composed of hardened steel material, and if handled carelessly, they can inflict significant damage upon the ship’s structure.

The occurrence of chipping (sharp dents), localized buckling, or detachment of side frames, and end brackets at lower connections may result in the formation of cracks in the side shell plating, permitting water ingress into the cargo compartments.

The protective coating that may be required to be applied within the cargo hold is also susceptible to deterioration caused by the corrosive nature of the cargo, high-temperature cargoes, cargo settlement during the voyage, and abrasive action of the cargo.

In areas where no protective coating has been applied or where the applied coatings have deteriorated, the corrosion rate will substantially increase, particularly when transporting corrosive cargoes like coal.

Corrosion has the potential to weaken the ship’s structure and eventually have a significant impact on its overall structural integrity. Detecting the severity of corrosion within a structural component might not be readily apparent without a close-up inspection, or until the corrosion triggers severe structural issues, such as the collapse or detachment of hold frames, leading to the propagation of cracks in the side shell.

Therefore, conducting a meticulous close-up inspection of the cargo compartments following discharge operations is of utmost importance, particularly when transporting corrosive and high-temperature cargoes.

When the primary discharge of the main grab is concluded, front-end loaders (Pay Loaders) are typically lowered into the hold to collect the cargo from the extremities and wings, and heap it neatly within the square of the hatch, facilitating effortless discharge by the grab.

Moreover, trimmers personnel are employed to manually remove the remaining cargo from areas inaccessible to the front-end Payloader, encompassing all those spaces elsewhere that it cannot reach. This is done to aid in the final discharge of the remaining cargo.

Standards of trimming vary significantly, hence ship’s officers are urged to thoroughly inspect the holds while the trimmers are engrossed in their work, in order to eliminate as much residual cargo as possible. In doing so, they can achieve maximum efficiency and prepare the hold for cleaning arrangements.

The ultimate inspection, following each cargo operation, should encompass ensuring that no bilge gratings or manhole cover plates are absent and that the securing bolts remain unharmed. Additionally, it should verify the intactness of all sounding pipes, airpipes, ballast lines, and their pipeguards. Moreover, it should ensure that no fresh indentations are visible on the plating of the tank top, lower or upper hopper sides, or athwart ship bulkheads. Furthermore, it should ascertain the regularity and undamaged state of the side frames, with brackets that are intact, as well as the completeness and undamaged condition of the hold ladders, platforms, and rails.

Any damage observed on the tank top plating, hopper sides, shell plating and framing, hatch coamings, hatch covers, bulkheads, stools, upper deck plating, air and sounding pipes, which may impact the seaworthiness of the vessel, ought to be promptly reported to the classification society.


Why are the Ship Holds inspected prior to loading?

Most commodities being shipped need to be safeguarded against contamination from various sources. Certain dry bulk cargoes are vulnerable to moisture, some are at risk of vermin and insect infestation, and others may decompose if not stored in the appropriate environment. Most liquid cargoes have the potential to be contaminated by external sources or by other liquids, such as a different cargo in an adjacent tank. Additionally, incorrect temperatures and hazardous chemical reactions with other liquids or substances can pose a threat.

Ship hold inspection services encompass the assessment and verification of the condition of the ship’s holds and tanks to ensure their suitability for loading various kinds of cargo and goods. Ship hold inspection services encompass:

  • Inspection of the ship’s holds for cleanliness: Ensuring that the ship’s holds are free from dirt, odors, cargo residues, foreign matter, or infestations, and conducting inspections for pest infestation.
  • Inspection of ship’s cargo hatch covers: Verifying that the cargo hatch covers are watertight and safe for consignment, ensuring the security of the transported cargo.
  • Inspection of ship’s holds and cargo hatch covers: Providing assurance that the consignment will be transported in a clean and safe manner.
  • Minimizing the risk of loss or damage: Inspecting ship’s holds and cargo hatch covers to minimize the potential for loss or damage to your consignment during shipping and storage.
  • Proactive problem avoidance.