Fig:Making bulk carriers safer
: The bulkhead between holds 1 and 2 and the double bottom of hold 1 must be strengthened to withstand flooding in hold 1 unless loading restrictions are imposed.
Restrictions on carriage of cargoes
: Existing bulk carriers which meet the new structural requirements by means of loading restrictions must be marked with a solid equilateral triangle on the hull at midships below the deck line.
: Equipment to be fitted to monitor the stresses during loading and unloading operations.
: Enhanced programme of inspections to detect potential structural weakness and areas of corrosion.
Modern bulk carriers, often described as the workhorses of the maritime trade, can be traced back to the 1950s when shipyards began building ships designed specifically for carrying non-packed commodities. Bulk carriers can be identified by the hatches above deck level which give access to the huge cargo holds below.
Particular emphasis has been placed on being ready for early evacuation or abandonment of the vessel. For ships carrying high-density cargoes this is of importance while they are at sea. There may however be cases where abandonment may be the worst option and for bulk carriers as with other ship types this is most probably true in the event of grounding.
In close proximity to shore, and especially in bad weather, life-saving craft launched from the ship are unlikely to save the occupants from the perils of the shoreline and the process of launching the craft probably carries much greater danger than remaining on board. Again, early contact with a Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre is important and the master should not hesitate to broadcast an Urgency or Distress message.
When aground and although the ship may be severely damaged or broken in two, the accommodation blocks in such strandings usually survive long enough for helicopter evacuation, as organized and co-ordinated by the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre, when weather conditions abate.