Ship duties while unloading cargo- Bulk carrier guide

Discharging cargo
: Bulk carriers are usually discharged by grabs or by suction pipes. Pouring the cargo through a shooter or via a conveyor belt does the loading. Bulk carriers have large upper and lower ballast tanks to give the empty vessel enough draught and a better behaviour whilst in transit. The safe operation of bulk carriers is dependant on not exceeding allowable stresses in the cycle of loading, discharging, ballasting and de-ballasting.

The master will advise the terminal representative of any deviation from the ballasting plan or any other matter which may effect cargo unloading.

At the start and during all stages of unloading cargo, the master should ensure that frequent checks are made so that:
i) cargo spaces and other enclosed spaces are well ventilated, and persons are allowed to enter them only after they have been declared safe for entry in accordance with the guidelines developed by the Organization;
ii) the cargo is being unloaded from each hold in accordance with the agreed unloading plan;



iii) the ballasting operation is proceeding in accordance with the agreed unloading plan;

iv) the ship is securely moored, and that weather conditions are being monitored and local weather forecasts obtained;

v) the ship's draught is read regularly to monitor the progress of the unloading;

vi) the terminal representative is warned immediately if the unloading process has caused damage, has created a hazardous situation, or is likely to do so;

vii) the ship is kept upright, or, if a list is required for operational reasons, it is kept as small as possible; and

viii) the unloading of the port side closely matches that of the starboard side in the same hold to avoid twisting the ship.



Further guidance is contained in IMO Assembly resolution A.864(20), Recommendations for entering enclosed spaces aboard ships. Special precautions should be taken and Enclosed space entry procedures observed where there is a risk of an unsafe atmosphere in ship's holds, particularly where:

a) The cargo has been fumigated en passage.

b) The cargo has oxygen depleting characteristics.

c) The cargo is liable to give off flammable or toxic vapours.

The terminal representative should be familiar with the BC Code (Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes) recommendations for the specific cargoes that the terminal handles, and also with the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for those materials.

The terminal representative should ensure the master is made aware of:

1) Any local tidal or current conditions at the berth that could affect the safe mooring of the ship.

2) Details of any prevailing wind conditions that could affect the safety of operations.

3) Any forecasts of extreme wind conditions.

4) Limiting wind or tidal conditions for berthing/unberthing.

5) Limiting wind conditions for loader/ unloader operation.

6) Other conditions affecting operations such as wave or swell conditions, visibility, electrical storms.

7) The effects of either heavy rainfall or drought conditions on the berth or approach channels.

Appropriate safety precautions should be taken while reading ship's draughts, including:

a)Safe access along jetty edge.

b) Wearing appropriate personnel protective equipment (including but not limited to life jacket, safety helmet, safety boots, high visibility clothing, respiratory protection, as necessary).

Hold inspections should be carried out as soon as unloading of a hold is completed and it is safe to enter. Any stevedore damage reports should be presented to the terminal representative immediately to allow the claim to be verified and agreement reached with the master concerning the arrangements to be made for its repair.

The terminal representative should be informed if the ship is being listed due to the distribution of ballast, or if there are problems on board with pumping ballast.

The master should ensure close supervision of the final stages of the unloading, to ensure that all cargo is unloaded. The master should also ensure that:

a) Adequate and proper hold lighting is provided.

b) Bilge cover plates are properly secured so that they cannot be accidentally dislodged during hold cleaning.

c) The deck watchkeepers are vigilant, checking the moorings throughout the duration of port stay considering some important points such as Weather conditions, both present and forecasted, Tide and Current ranges, Traffic movement in the vicinity (where applicable) - Interval of mooring patrols depending upon above factors.




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.
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 Contact us

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A Bulk carrier underway
"A ship which is intended primarily to carry dry cargo in bulk, including such types as ore carriers and combination carriers"







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