Separation, dunnage, lashing. Principles of stowage. Causes of damage to cargo. Process of discharging. Cargo officer’s duties

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Separation, dunnage, lashing

Dunnage is used very extensively in sea cargo carriage. It may be explained by the fact of frequent damage to goods occasionally taking place due to various causes. Among these reasons are: contact with moisture or sweat arising as a result of vapour condensation; contact with water from bilges or other cargo; excessive level of heat; chafage etc. Dunnage can protect the cargo from the above negative influences and therefore it’s very important.

Both the permanent ceiling and the additional separation should be dry, clean and without oil stains. Sometimes it’s allowed to use separation material for several voyages when different types of cargo are delivered. In this case besides the above requirements a significant attention is paid to avoid odour retaining from previous goods.   

For different types of cargo various kinds of dunnage are applied. But the usage of the following materials is the most often: boards, battens, cardboard, cardwood, tarpaulins, mats and plywood.

If the goods are carried in bags the criterion in choosing of correct separation is their size. And in this case it’s vital to provide correct air circulation and proper ventilation of every tier. As a rule it may be achieved by placing wide boards with the appropriate distance between them. It also allows to avoid sagging of the bags.

Stow of the units belonging to general cargo must be as compact as possible and accurate placing of separation in holds must be ensured. General cargo may misplace or even break up the dunnage, that’s why it’s recommended to have a liberal supply of it.

Principles of stowage

Correct and proper stowage of the goods on ship’s deck or in her holds ensures such important factors as full usage of ships earning capacity, safety as to her seaworthiness, high cargo handling operation speed, preventing cargo from possible damage within the voyage. But along with the mentioned factors safety of the crew is the requirement which must be provided first of all.

A method of stowage and its details are elaborated in the cargo plan which should be made out in advance before loading. It determines a disposition of cargo pieces on the ship schematically on her fore-and-aft and diametrical sections. Although it is just a drawing the cargo plan considerably facilitates the cargo operations.

Many cargoes especially bulk ones may significantly affect ship’s stability and other seaworthiness due to shifting or incorrect placing and the cargo officer is to ensure that the cargo would be stowed reliably in compliance with the appropriate regulations. Sometimes it’s necessary to involve additional equipment, for instance in case of grain carriage installation of special shifting boards is occasionally demanded.

There are particular requirements for stowage of general goods. For example bottom stowage must be given to heavy ones, and light units are usually stowed on the former.

One shouldn’t forget about placing of separation when necessary. The one of the main aim in usage of the dunnage is to full broken stowage arising for example owing to irregular shape and dimensions of the packages.

Causes of damage to cargo

All types of unsafe cargo carriage may be divided into 3 main groups: deterioration or damage to cargo, short-shipment or short-delivery and pilferage. The former makes up a big part in maritime practice. Damage to cargo means its getting slightly wet, crushing, acquisition of outside odour, spontaneous combustion and others.

Negligence and human factor forms the first reason of unsafe carriage. Workers of transport from principals to Dockers have an inclination to make a mistake infringing the regulations of correct storage and transportation of the goods which results in damage to the cargo. The most frequent infringements are for example bad stowage of the pieces when heavy units are placed on top of light ones; cargo works during the precipitations; improper ventilation of the goods etc. And it’s impossible to remove this factor at all.

Another cause is old and insufficient equipment of the ship. It always must be taken into account that facility of the vessel should totally correspond to the type of cargo.

Unforeseen circumstances during the voyage sometimes results in serious problems which may be even the ship’s wreck. These circumstances are storm, tornado, waterspout etc. It is called force majeure. Navigator may avoid the above factor by means of thorough planning of the voyage.

One more reason as a rule is connected with dangerous goods when some of their characteristics are unknown not only for carrier but it is unknown for everyone. And accident happens to the ship in this case very suddenly.

Process of discharging

Along with loading and sea voyage discharging is the next part in the process of sea cargo carriage. And it has not lesser importance as compared for example with the loading. Even provided the cargo is carefully transported into the port of destination incorrect delivery of goods may result in serious difficulties connected with the claims on the part of the consignee.

Process of discharging is provided for either by the terms of the charter party or by local customs of the appropriate port.

It’s necessary that the consignee would be in all respects ready to take the cargo before its arrival. Such readiness means efficient labour, well rigged berth with cargo handling facility of an appropriate capacity etc. Therefore it is stipulated that the master is to notify the agent in port of discharge about the ship’s ETA. Besides arrival time ETA gives the consignee some information about the ship and cargo on her board. But the particulars as to the goods, their quantity and disposition aboard are indicated in the Cargo plan and in the Cargo manifest which should be send to the port of destination after the completion of the loading.    

Speaking about the documents the Notice of ship’s readiness to discharge should be mentioned. Handing over of it means that the vessel is ready to commence unloading.

Before delivery to the consignee the cargo after its arrival often gets to the warehouses or pier sheds where good conditions of storage must be ensured.

The delivery of the cargo can be started only when the original B/L is produced to the ship’s Master. The B/L may be considered as a clean when the goods accepted without any claims or remarks.

Cargo officer’s duties

On board the merchant ship the Cargo Officer is appointed from the number of watch mates. Very often it is the Chief Officer. Cargo Officer is he who supervises all of the processes connected with cargo. Among his duties are both routine formalities and direct supervision of cargo handling.

After conclusion of contract of sea carriage the shipper is to provide detailed information about the cargo containing its quantity and properties. On the basis of this data the Cargo Officer must ensure appropriate readiness of the ship. Preparedness of cargo spaces must conform to the cargo class. There are a wide range of requirements to the cargo spaces but above all they must be dry, clean and well ventilated.

Dealing with cargo documents is his next important responsibility. The documents must be drawn up carefully and timely.

Before taking the goods aboard he owes to survey them. And if he discovers damaged pieces or packing appropriate notes must be entered into the Mates Receipts.

The Cargo Officer should look after the work of stevedores and crewmembers and not permit negligence relatively the cargo.

He must control the cargo works and immediately interrupt them if necessary for example in case of bad weather.    

Within loading and discharging proper tally should be arranged, and all of the disputes between tallymen must be taken into account.

Another duty of this Poor Boy is to ensure ship’s stability and her seaworthiness for the future voyage.

During the voyage good conditions for the cargo should be provided that is above all ventilation.

 It is vital for the C.O. to have efficient rest and relaxation that is above all sufficient quantity of sleep.

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