The Significance Of Container Weighing Revealed!



Dear Mfame readers,

Earlier this month we published a regulatory guidance on container weighing.  In case you have missed it please click here to view it.  Today, through this article we bring your attention to the alarming effect of non-compliance with such regulations.


A 51,000-tonne cargo ship which left Southampton on 3 January 2014 at 20:06 GMT, was “rounding West Bramble buoy in the Solent when it developed a big starboard list and became stranded in the Solent for 19 days.  The pilot gave the order to “stop engines” at 21:10 GMT but as the list increased more than 40º, leaving the rudder and propeller out of the water.  The vessel carrying 1450 cars on board lost steerage and propulsion and subsequently drifted aground on Bramble Bank.

Investigations revealed that the list was due to the improper distribution of weight inside the vessel.  Investigations report that the ship was “unstable” when it left port.  A “significant difference” between the actual and estimated cargo weight left it unstable.


Damages caused:

  • A JCB stone cutter broke free of its lashings and ripped a hole in the hull, causing seawater to enter the ship.
  • One off-duty crew member broke an arm and a leg as he stumbled and fell 18m down a corridor, hitting the door at the end.
  • It could have also been a potential threat thereby stopping the container port, the cruise ships, the ferries etc., hence resulting in a disaster for Britain’s largest oil refinery which could have run out of supplies.


Causes revealed:

  • Actual cargo weight and stowage were significantly different to the final cargo tally supplied to the ship
  • The Chief officer believed he knew with sufficient accuracy the quantity of ballast water in each tank.  To comply with the Wallem SMS [safety management system] requirement it is necessary to record the ballast tank sounding every day, the chief officer falsified the sounding records.
  • Witness and anecdotal evidence suggest that the practice of not calculating the actual stability condition on completion of cargo operations but before the ship sails extends to the PCC/PCTC [pure car carrier/pure car and truck carrier] sector in general.
  • Land Rovers were estimated to be two tonnes each but actually weighed significantly more, which accounted for almost 350 extra tonnes.


Lessons Learnt:

  • Unsafe practices should not be allowed at anytime.
  • Commence internal investigation and introduce new procedures.
  • Internal procedures and instructions should ensure the maintenance of stability of its vessels throughout the operating cycle.
  • Always follow 10 Key Points On Container Weighing


BBC Credit Link


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