A ‘Silver Bullet’ to Prevent Water Ingress into Cargo Holds

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One of the important factors predicting the seaworthiness of a vessel is the ability to resist the seawater ingress into the internal spaces.  However, people still face the problem of cargo wetting and damages due to the water ingress in cargo holds.  Though improvements in equipment design, vessel maintenance programmes and raised commercial expectations has significantly reduced the problem, the necessity to involve resources for proper maintenance and checking of cargo related fittings and equipment has increased.

Addressing the issue, UK P&I Club risk assessor David Nichol has provided guidelines and advises on loss prevention measures.

Guidelines:

  • All steel work structures and fittings should be kept corrosion free and well coated.
  • Panel seals should be complete, pliable and without excessive deformation or grooving.  Where a section of rubber is found to be deficient, the whole panel strip should preferably be replaced.
  • The sealing rubber which manufactures recommend should be fitted, including shaped sections for corner pieces.  The use of cheaper, inferior products which are widely available on the market have been known to result in claims.
  • If hatch cover panels are not properly aligned with each other and/or the hatch coamings, the sealing arrangement will be compromised.
  • Panel hinge and pivot bearings must be periodically checked for excessive wear and pins/bushes replaced as required.
  • Bearing pads on both coamings and corresponding panels are designed to bear the weight of the hatch covers (and any cargo which may be loaded on top) and to provide the correct spacing between panels and coamings. It is therefore important that these fittings are kept clean, corrosion free and periodically checked to ensure that the designed dimensions of the pads are maintained.
  • Hatch coaming face plates, compression bars and drainage channels should be clean and free of physical damage and corrosion.
  • Hatch cover panel securing arrangements come in a very wide range of designs.  However, whether automated or manually operated, they must be complete, properly adjusted and lubricated. Excessive over tightening of manual cleats should not be done in the misguided belief that this will improve the tightness of the seal.

Source: UK P&I