An important element of a vessel’s seaworthiness is its ability to resist the ingress of sea water into internal spaces. Yet members are continuing to experience high value cargo damage claims relating to the ingress of water in cargo holds. UK P&I Club risk assessor David Nichol examines the problem and advises on loss prevention measures.
Over the years, improvements in equipment design, vessel maintenance programmes and raised commercial expectations have had the effect of significantly reducing the frequency of cargo wetting problems. However, the continuing occurrence of expensive cargo wetting damage claims shows that there is no room for complacency in ensuring that that the required work and resources are put into proper maintenance and checking of cargo related fittings and equipment.
UK P&I Club provides advice on particular points that should be paid attention to:
- 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.