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Self- unloading bulk carriers preparations for cargo planning, handling & stowage

Self-unloading systems – Horizontal and vertical conveyor systems used to discharge bulk cargoes. Originally developed to allow ships to handle cargoes at ports not equipped with their own gear, they are also used to reduce handling costs by minimising the need for stevedores. Before and during all operations involving the cargo, ballast and bunkering systems, the Master must ensure that the precautions required by these procedures and relevant checklists are fully observed. Reference is to be made to the publications listed in this section as well as equipment operating and instruction manuals.

Voyage orders

Cargoes are nominated on the basis of the ship’s recorded characteristics and there should be no difficulty under normal circumstances in arranging stowage. However, should a situation arise where nominated quantities cannot be stowed safely, the relevant Management Office and the vessel’s Charterers must be informed immediately.

The fixture advice sent to the vessel will normally include “a minimum Charter Party Quantity”. This figure is a contractual quantity. It is not an instruction to load that quantity. It is imperative that if “a maximum” cargo quantity is advised to the vessel then this figure must not be exceeded. Conversely, if a minimum cargo quantity is advised to the vessel then at least that quantity must be loaded. Cargo quantities are often nominated +/- 5% and the maximum possible to be lifted to maximise freight.

Self unloader discharging coal
Fig: Self unloader discharging coal

The quantity to be loaded must be strictly in accordance with the latest instructions received from the Company or the vessel’s charterers. Should the Master consider he has not been given sufficient information he is to request additional information from the relevant Management Office or the vessel’s Charterers immediately.

The Master must ensure that his Chief Officer is kept fully informed of any changes. Similarly, the Chief Officer must ensure that the Master is kept fully aware of any changes in quantities, which are advised via the terminal personnel. Changes in cargo quantities received via the terminal or where the terminal nomination does not agree with the loading orders in quantities and/or grades must be confirmed with the relevant Management Office and the vessel’s Charterers.

Self-unloading system of the HAI WANG XING

The self-unloading collier HAI WANG XING was built by Bremer Vulkan Verft, Germany, in 1995. Cargo is carried in five holds within a double-hull. The hold bottom is W-shaped, forming slopping hoppers above the two hold conveyors. The cargo handling equipment consists of 6 conveyor belts.

Unloading is accomplished via gravity through hydraulically-operated gates fitted to outlet hoppers in the bottom of each hold, releasing cargo onto two 169m long longitudinal conveyors. Each of them has a maximum capacity of 1750 tonnes/hr; the belt has a width of 2m and runs at a speed of 2.6 m/sec. These transport the cargo aft and incline up through the engine room area. There, it is transferred to two cross conveyors in the stern of the vessel. These have a belt width of 1.8m, a length of 6.6m and lift the cargo 1.4m at a speed of 2.1 m/ sec. The cargo is then transferred to a single 36.6m-long centre-line inclined conveyor. It takes the cargo 10.8m upwards through the accommodation block at a speed of 3.8 m/sec out to the weather deck. Cargo is finally discharged ashore via a boom-conveyor, able to be slewed and hoisted, at a rate of about 3500 tonnes/hr. The boom-conveyor is 76.2m long, with a belt width of 1.8m and speed of 4.1 m/sec.

Port information

The Master is to consult prior to arrival the guide to port entry and the local agent for the current port details.

Cargo surveyors

It is normal and usual practice when independent cargo surveyors are appointed by Charterers, Shippers and/or Receivers to carry out cargo hold inspection, calculating cargo quantities, and to take samples at loading or discharge ports. The Company may also appoint an independent surveyor, particularly when the possibility of a dispute or claim exists, to protect the interests of the Company and Owners.

In the event that such a surveyor appears to lack proficiency of safety awareness, this must be reported to the relevant Management Office providing as much detail as possible. Cargo surveyors are to be extended full co-operation in going about their business, however the Master must not permit the use of unsafe practices, and must avoid delays caused by cargo measurement operations.

Cargo surveyors are always to be accompanied by a ship’s Officer when checking cargo holds and/or taking samples, and must never be allowed to operate cargo equipment or valves. Cargo surveyors must always provide the ship with copies of their various reports. They must be kept together with ship’s cargo papers, voyage by voyage in envelopes.

Endorsing cargo surveyor reports

It is of crucial importance to exercise great care when surveyor’s reports are presented for counter signature. The ship’s Officer must realise that he is not being asked to witness a set of figures or measurements, he is in fact being asked to endorse the surveyors report as agent of the ships Owner and he must not endorse it with a clean signature unless he is totally satisfied, and in agreement with the details and the report contents. If he is not in total agreement with the surveyors report, the ships Officer must make a written comment on the form before he signs it, stating clearly what aspects of the report he does not agree with. Even if he is in agreement with the contents of the report he is to endorse the document “for receipt only”.

Cargo documentation

Company requirements regarding Log Books are to be adhered to. For the description and examples of the required Company Forms, the Company Forms must be referred to. Copies of all available cargo documents are to be kept together, in an envelope, voyage by voyage.

Ship's cargo documentation

The following cargo operations documentation is to be completed by ship’s staff at each port of loading and/or discharging, and forwarded to the relevant Management Office and/or Time Charterers:
Company forms must be used for this purpose, however when the vessel is on Time Charter, the Charterers may place on board their own forms. In such cases, provided that these forms contain at least the same information as the Company forms, the Charterer’s forms will be accepted.

Cargo hold inspections

Cargo holds must be inspected before and after loading, and discharging operations. The inspections before loading and after discharge are to be made without entering the cargo holds. However, if visual inspection of the holds is required then reference to the Safety and Environmental section is to be made.

After loading and before and after each discharging operation, the quantity of cargo on board must be established as accurately as possible, to provide a reliable comparison with the Bills of Lading and Receiver’s figures.

Cargo planning

When planning the stowage of the nominated cargoes, the following are to be taken into consideration:

Reference documents

  1. Ship’s “Procedure and Arrangements Manual” (Approved by Class)
  2. BCH/IBC Code
  3. IMSBC Code
  4. IMDG Code
  5. International Code for the Safe Carriage of Grain
  6. Supplement to IMDG Code including MFAG and EMS
  7. Guide to Port Entry

Our detail pages illustrated many safety aspects of Bulk carrier

Home page |||Bulk carrier types ||| Handling of bulk coal |||Cargo planning ||| Carriage of grain |||Risk of iron ores |||Self unloading bulk carriers |||Care of cargo & vessel |||Cargoes that may liquefy |||Suitability of ships |||Terminal guideline |||Hold cleaning |||Cargo cranes |||Ballast handling procedure |||Bulk carrier safety |||Fire fighting systems |||Bulk carrier General arrangement

Related information

  1. Additional cargo documents required for bulk cargo loading

  2. Self unloader components

  3. Function of loop & bucket belt elevators

  4. Self unloaders various cargo handling gears

  5. Various type boom conveyor belts - How the belt sytem practically works ?

  6. Dealing with self unloaders stalled lift belt

  7. Conveyor belt construction & troubleshoot guide

  8. Conveyor belt installation guide

  9. Conveyor belt repair & maintenence guide

  10. Safe working practice onboard self unloading bulk carriers

  11. Preventing conveyor belt fire onboard self unloading bulk carriers

  12. Cargo work safety precautions

  13. Various bulk cargoes - free flow ability

  14. Various bulk cargoes & dealing with cargo hang ups

  15. Navigation in Ice & safety precautions

  16. Dust suppression procedure & environment protection

  17. Maintaining safe stability onboard self-unloading bulk carriers

  18. Procedure for bulk cargo handling prior to and during loading

  19. Loading operations - voyage orders, draft restrictions, various grades and rates

  20. Loading sequence and other related considerations

  21. Preparations for discharging & related guideline

  22. Self unloaders discharging operation

  23. Safety precautions for boom operation

  24. Directing gate operation, gate problems & crew duties

  25. Cargo holds/ tunnels cleaning, maintenance and check items

  26. Procedure for transporting coal on self- unloading bulk carriers

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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