Ship duties while unloading cargo- Bulk carrier guide
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
iii) the ballasting operation is proceeding in
accordance with the agreed unloading
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
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
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
b) The cargo has oxygen depleting
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
3) Any forecasts of extreme wind
4) Limiting wind or tidal conditions for
5) Limiting wind conditions for loader/
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
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
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
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
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"A ship which is intended primarily to carry dry cargo
in bulk, including such types as ore carriers and
- Cargo information required by ship master prior handling bulk cargo
- Care of cargo during loading- Trimming pours
- Checklist for confirming stabilty and hull stress prior loading
- Cargo loading agreement between ship and terminal
- Bulk carrier loading manual
- Handling of deballasting (ship duties) during high loading rate
- Cargo and ballast handling guide
- Responsibility of ship during cargo operation
- Shipboard hazards & bulk carriers safety guideline
- Asymmetric cargo and ballast distribution for bulk carriers
- Limitations on exceeding load lines
- Risk of deviation from the loading limitations
- Cargo handling guidance for deck officers