Self Trimming Bulk Carriers

An operation that we experience rarely these days is the requirement to bag bulk cargoes on loading or at discharge. The need to bag cargoes on loading goes back to the time when dry cargo vessels were not ‘purpose built’ or ‘specialised’. When loading grain the cargo will fill the hold but once at sea with the vibration and movement in the seaway the cargo will settle and leave an empty space at the top. When the ship heels, due to wind or sea, the grain will shift to the low side causing a list to the ship which can be a safety hazard. In the olden days it would be necessary to secure the top of the cargo with at least two tiers of bags filled with the cargo and perhaps even secure those bags with lashings over the top. Modern vessels which will carry such bulk cargoes are designed and built as ‘self trimming’ bulk carriers which, among other things, removes the requirement to bag any of the cargo for safety and trimming. If a cargo is to be bagged at the discharge port this is usually to facilitate the discharge of the cargo and its subsequent distribution by road or rail in areas where the port facilities are ‘basic’. In either of the above cases thought must be given to ensuring the charter party will clearly set out who will pay and be responsible for the operation and how time will count for laytime and demurrage purposes.