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Handling water ingress problems in bulk carrier, investigation and countermeasures

Bulk carrier potential failure

Based on experience of accidents with lesser consequences it was concluded that the casualties occurred through local structural failure leading to loss of watertight integrity of the side shell followed by progressive flooding through damaged bulkheads. Any prudent Master may wish to investigate any suspected water ingress more closely but preparations for evacuating the ship should be made instantly and concurrent with any investigation.



Remote methods of observation are preferable to sending personnel onto decks, particularly in bad weather and/or at night. Deck floodlights should be used if necessary to try and identify abnormalities. Detrimental effects on watchkeepers' night vision are of secondary importance in such circumstances.


Structural failure and flooding of bulk carrier
Fig: Structural failure and flooding of bulk carrier

In circumstances deemed justifiable for sending crew onto decks that may be frequently awash with rough sea conditions, at least two crew should go to investigate. They should wear harnesses that attach them to a lifeline and to each other and should be in constant (radio) communication with the bridge. Each harness should be provided with two easily operated clips so that wearers are always attached to the ship's structure, even when passing across from one lifeline or structural attachment to another.

Lifelines on both sides of the deck should be rigged at all times and progress along the deck should always be via the lee or sheltered side. When weather conditions deteriorate is not the time to begin rigging such measures. Fencing or shipside rails alone should not be relied upon without attachment by harness.

When a loss of hull integrity is known or suspected, crew should not be sent onto decks that are being regularly submerged or deeply awash. In such circumstances the ship should be regarded as in imminent danger and priority should be given to preparations for abandonship.


Bulk carrier emergency action after a Collision incidence

In the event of a collision, master should call the ship's crew to emergency stations with a strong emphasis on preparing to abandon the ship. Actual abandonship to be done only after verbal order from master. Prompt response to abandonship is particularly important and urgent in cases where a ship is loaded with dense bulk cargo. Older designs of bulk carriers and small ships with fewer holds are particularly prone to sudden progressive flooding if the damage occurs abaft any strengthened bulkheads in the forward part of the ship. This type of damage is more probable resulting from collisions in dense traffic or overtaking manoeuvres.



Related guideline

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  2. Practical method for the control of transportation of harmful marine organisms


  3. Safety precautions during ballast operation


  4. Loading of high density cargo and water ballast distribution for bulk carriers


  5. Regulation of pumping system of bulk carriers


  6. Risk of partially filled ballast tanks







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  5. Deterioration of ships structure and consequences of forward flooding


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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.
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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