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Hold preparation checklist -Additional measures for specific cargo

There are many different types of cargoes which are commonly carried in bulk in today's market, and they all require different methods of hold cleaning, although one basic rule always applies, and that is that the vessel's cargo holds must always be cleaned to the highest standards possible, regardless of the next commodity to be carried.

Below hold cleaning checks are only a guide and masters and owners should check the charterers’ and shippers’ requirements. The end use of the product may require a higher state of cleanliness than normally expected. The list below is not exhaustive – check with the IMSBC Code.

  1. hold bilge pumping and line arrangements understood
  2. standard and extent of hold cleanliness and preparation for the next cargo is known from charterers, shippers, owners, charterparty, IMSBC Code
  3. instructions from charterers are clearly understood
  4. ensure ship has sufficient water for a freshwater wash-down; additional freshwater can be taken in the fore or aft peak tanks. (A panamax bulk carrier requires about 20/25 tonnes of freshwater per hold for freshwater wash-down)


  1. holds swept thoroughly after discharge of previous cargo and residues removed. Residues left on deck are kept covered to reduce dust and pollution risk
  2. holds and internal structures checked for damages
  3. bilge wells/strum boxes are cleared of cargo spillage. Bilge cover plate fitted in good order
  4. hold bilge sounding pipes and temperature pipes are free of debris
  5. do not wash holds where adjacent holds are not free of cargo, or if the bulkhead in the adjacent hold is not clear of cargo (as there is a potential risk of water damage/ingress)
  6. the bilge line to be blanked off from the engine room for holds with cargo during washing
  7. bilges of holds with cargo to be sounded frequently during washing
  8. before pumping out bilge water, ensure MARPOL and local regulations are not violated
  9. fixed fire extinguishing lines should be flushed out with air to remove dust and residues


  1. the non-return valves in the bilge well are to be checked and operational
  2. bilge wells should be dry. Strum box and bilge cover plate should be clear and secured
  3. bilge cover plate should be covered with burlap and secured
  4. open and inspect the valve/seat of each hold bilge valve in engine room and ensure it is free of cargo residues and debris
  5. open and inspect main bilge line valve in engine room and ensure it is free of cargo residues and debris
  6. ensure all valves on the hold bilge line are effectively shut to prevent water ingress into holds from fire and general service pump, ballast and eductor pump, etc. Valves should be closed, with measures in place to ensure that they stay closed (visible signs)
  7. ensure that all manhole lids on the hold tank top and ballast line blanks in ballast hold are watertight and oil-tight
  8. ensure that ballast well manhole and ballast line blanks are tight
  9. ensure that high-level bilge alarms are operational
  10. ensure that the stool spaces are drained of water. (Stool spaces may contain water in ballast hold through cracks in stool bulkhead). Ensure that stool manhole lids are closed tight
  11. ensure that connection pipe and ballast trunking from top-side tank to double bottom are not leaking into hold
  12. ensure that the gland packing of extended spindles for double bottom tank valve passing from top-side tank through cargo hold into double bottom are free of leaks

Cleaning the holds
Fig:Cleaning the holds requires resources
Cleanliness/preparation – specific cargo may require additional measures
  1. remove all previous cargo residues, loose rust and scale. Ensure that loose rust on under-side of hatch covers is removed
  2. after salt water washing, final rinse should be with freshwater. Wash holds with freshwater alone if required by the charterparty or for the type of cargo
  3. check for hairline cracks on internals and plating after the holds are washed and cleaned
  4. ensure that holds are ventilated and dried. The hold should be inspected very closely for infestation, especially when grain and grain products are to be loaded
  5. carry out a hose test of hatch covers and access hatch covers and vents before loading
  6. check ventilation systems and their closing arrangements
  7. on completion, the chief officer should inspect the hold to ensure its condition is satisfactory in all respects for loading
  8. the master should inspect the holds for confirmation of cleanliness prior to presenting the holds for survey
  9. hold bilges should be sounded daily at sea, weather permitting – the responsible officer should monitor this
  10. bilges must be pumped out dry as required
  11. bilge sounding/temperature pipes must be closed watertight

Maintaining the paint work reduces claims
Fig:Maintaining the paint work reduces claims
Prior to loading
After loading
  1. avoid carrying ballast in double bottom and top-side tank in way of holds with cargo, unless unavoidable, for example, for stability reasons
  2. ventilate the cargo hold as necessary. Compare the dew point of the hold and of the outside air to avoid damage from ventilation
  3. fuel in tanks in way of cargo holds to be managed. Fuel oil heating in tanks in way of cargo holds should not exceed 5ºC above the required transfer temperature
  4. monitor and record the fuel oil temperature

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    Operation of sea going bulk carriers involved numerous hazards . Careful planning and exercising due caution for all critical shipboard matters are important . This site is a quick reference to international shipping community with guidance and information on the loading and discharging of modern bulk carriers so as to remain within the limitations as specified by the classification society.
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