Fig:self unloader components ready for operation
The grade of the optional quantity is to be stated/identified and ideally used for
trimming the vessel. The sequence of discharging of the various grades must be established and
followed. The procedure at a change of grade is to be strictly adhered to. When submitting the
loading plan to the shore terminal, agreement to the figures planned by the terminal must be ensured,
and also that they have not changed any figures or grades which will require revision of the loading
plan. The relevant Management Office must also be notified, and the loading plan prepared again to
the satisfaction of the Master.
THE BILL OF LADING
The Bill of Lading sometimes used in the self unloading vessel trade may be of format agreed upon by
the Owners, Shippers and the Charterers. If the Master is in any doubt regarding any aspect of the Bill
of Lading, he must contact the Company before signing the same. Letters of Indemnity are not used in
this trade, and the Master must contact the relevant Management Office if he is issued one.
The Owners have expressed that their customers on the USA coastal trade are known, and the Master
must not await the signed B/L and other instructions before releasing the cargo. This is a non-standard
procedure, and if in doubt the Master is to contact the Company or Owners for clarification.
WATER-LINE TO TOP OF HATCH COAMING HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS
The height from the water-line to the top of the hatch coaming, is of importance at the load port to
determine if the height of the shore loader in a given tidal level is sufficient to commence loading, or if
the vessel will have sufficient clearance underneath the loader.
Due to the trim of the vessel, this height varies hold to hold and loading may be planned to commence
accordingly at an after hold, and transferred simultaneously to a centre hold using the SUL system. It
is important to find out from the local agents or shippers the details of the loading arm before engaging
a cargo from any port.
The term ‘air draft’ applies to the height of the highest point on the vessel from the water-line e.g. the
top of the radar mast and is required when determining if the vessel can pass under bridges in rivers
Air-drafts must be calculated in full ballast and unballasted condition, and/or other possible present
conditions of arrival or departure to determine a safe passage.
THE STAGES OF SUL LOADING
- Understanding the voyage instructions and preparing the load plan.
- Preparation of holds.
- Inspection of holds to ensure that all residue of the previous cargo is removed.
- Testing all communications.
- Establishing communications with the shore terminal and completing the ship-shore checklist.
- Hand over and explanation of the load plan to the shore personnel in charge of loading.
- Completing the Ship to Shore
- Completing the Cargo loading/preparation
- Commencement of loading.
- Carrying out the boom banking procedure.
- Loading and de-ballasting/stripping as per sequences planned.
- Completing the watch handover checklist
- Draft Checks, Trimming sequences.
- Completion of trimming.
Draft checks and calculations are to be carried out and the drafts closely monitored visually, prior to the
starting of the trimming sequence, with about say 5000 m/tons remaining. This allows corrections to
achieve the final planned draft. Corrections may have to be made where the shore loader weight
counter has an error, or where the cargo contains an unexpected amount of water or has been
The tonnage of material on the shore belt when trimming must be taken into account as the shore
loader will be carrying a large amount of cargo, which has to be run out into the ships hold. The
quantity has to be ascertained before trimming, and allowed for when providing the completing
tonnage requirement to the shore loader. If this is not carried out the vessel may be in an overloaded
Bulldozers or similar machines are not to be allowed into the holds at any stage of loading in efforts to
compact the cargo, as this will affect the free flow ability of the cargo. It is however permissible in the
case of coal cargoes where compacting will reduce the trapped air, and lower the fire risk. Before this
procedure is carried out the Master must contact the relevant Management Office for their consent.
If in the event of grain carriage, and fumigation is required, safety measures will have to be considered
as the entire tunnel will be affected with poisonous gas.
SEGREGATION OF VARIOUS GRADES (LOADING)
The planning and segregation of grades is very important for the avoidance of cargo
The sequence of loading of the various grades must be agreed with shippers and shore personnel. The
planned sequence of the ‘Loading Plan’ must be accepted and approved by the Shore Terminal. All
means of communications between ship and shore are to be tested. Clear information and instructions
must be provided by the shore personnel at completion and change of grade.
The Duty Officer is
required to visibly ensure that the shore loading/conveyor system is absolutely clear of the previous
grade and to request the shore to verbally confirm the same. If, when inspecting the cargo loaded in
the holds, any contamination or non uniformity in the cargo is observed, this must be immediately
brought to the notice of the Shore Foreman or authorised person. If the doubt persists the Company
must be informed.
The Master is to read, understand, and comply with, the limitations stated in the vessels Loading and
Stability manual, which is certified by Classification.
The following limitations and/or restrictions are to be complied with:
1. Load density of each hold, or the maximum allowable homogenous tonnage in each hold.
2. The alternate holds which may be kept empty, and the maximum allowable draft in this
3. If any single hold can be left empty.
4. Maximum permissible load on an unsupported transverse bulkhead.
5. Limits of bending moments and shearing forces.
The mandatory conditions must be referred to. The minimum fluid GM attained in these conditions is
to be considered as the lowest that is permissible, even though the vessel may be well within the limits
set for bulk carriers in general.
BOOM BANKING PROCEDURE
The boom banking procedure is a method for creating a counterweight for the out swung boom at the
start of loading. In effect this is to counter or compensate for the list which occurs due to the offshore
slewing of the boom. This is mainly the case for straight and articulated booms, as these are in the
way of the shore loader, and obstruct the loading of after holds.
The average weight of the boom can amount to 250 metric tons. Swinging the boom outboard will
cause a list, which is detrimental to the operation and the boom itself. A ‘bank’ or counterweight
therefore has to be made by using the cargo being loaded in a designated hold forward of the boom head, preferably at the start of loading.
Ballast must not be used to compensate and is to be evenly
pumped out. To form this bank, the boom is to be swung slowly outboard, whilst the shore loader is
loading on the extreme inboard inshore side of the designated hold. Ideally, the ballast on both sides
should be almost even in all tanks, so that when the boom is being swung back prior to trimming or
other planned sequence, the list can be compensated by cargo itself. At this stage the ballast is to be
pumped out and stripping completed. Sometimes, when the boom is brought back to centre it may
obstruct the shore loader for the holds in the trimming sequence.
In such a case the boom is to be
moved as near as possible to the hatch coaming. A small balance of cargo must then be retained to
correct the list after bringing the boom to the centre, by loading this small balance, say 50 tons into a
When planning an intermediate run (sequence) in the hold with the ‘bank’ care must be taken not to
overwhelm the banked amount, especially when loading lighter cargoes like coal at a good rate. This
may cause the vessel to list at end of that run.
The reasons for the vessel listing during cargo operations may be as the result of:
- Uneven de-ballasting.
- Water re-entering a stripped tank, owing to a faulty valve.
- The loss of a boom bank.
- Uneven loading, due to faulty listometer lights.
- Transfer of bunkers.
The cause for the vessels list must be ascertained and corrected immediately
The vessel may suddenly list while loading lighter cargoes due to:
- The reduction of the GM caused by the high piles of voluminous cargo.
- Loss of the boom counterweight.
- Free Surface Effect, or the slack water in ballast tanks that forms a wedge to the listed side.
- Outstretched boom.
Sudden lists can become more progressive if not checked immediately. The boom must not be moved
in this listed condition as overloading and resultant hydraulic pipe failure may occur, complicating the
The cargo loading must be stopped and measures taken to increase the GM by refilling a DB tank on
the lower side, and then loading some cargo in the empty hold. When the list is less than 2 degrees,
the Boom can be brought slowly inboard as much as possible to further reduce the list. The vessel is
however still in a sensitive condition, and efforts must be made to strip out all the slack tanks.
- International Code for the Safe Carriage of Grain in Bulk
Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC Code)
Thomas Stowage: The Properties of Stowage of Cargoes
IMDG Code + Supplement to the Code
Our detail pages illustrated many safety aspects of Bulk carrier
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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.
- Self unloader components
- Additional cargo documents required for bulk cargo loading
Function of loop & bucket belt elevators
Self unloaders various cargo handling gears
- Various type boom conveyor belts - How the belt sytem practically works ?
Dealing with self unloaders stalled lift belt
Conveyor belt construction & troubleshoot guide
Conveyor belt installation guide
Conveyor belt repair & maintenence guide
Safe working practice onboard self unloading bulk carriers
- Preventing conveyor belt fire onboard self unloading bulk carriers
- Cargo work safety precautions
- Various bulk cargoes - free flow ability
- Various bulk cargoes & dealing with cargo hang ups
- Navigation in
Ice & safety precautions
- Dust suppression procedure & environment protection
- Preparations for cargo planning, handling & stowage
- Maintaining safe stability onboard self-unloading bulk carriers
- Procedure for bulk cargo handling prior to and during loading
- Loading sequence and other related considerations
- Preparations for discharging & related guideline
- Self unloaders discharging operation
- Safety precautions for boom operation
- Directing gate operation, gate problems & crew duties
- Cargo holds/ tunnels cleaning, maintenance and check items
- Procedure for transporting coal on self- unloading bulk carriers
It is vital to reduce the likelihood of over-stressing the ship's structure and also complying with all essential safety measures for a safe passage at sea. Our detail pages contain various bulk carrier related topics that might be useful for people working on board and those who working ashore in the terminal. For any remarks please
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