What to do when the Cargo has shifted?

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Actions in case of cargo shift. This topic is related to Container ships and ships carrying Project Cargoes

Shifting of cargo is probably among the worst nightmare of the Master. The uncertainty related to such incident can only be imagined by the Master who has ever stood in that unfavorable situation. So, it is very important to ensure that timely steps are take once it is confirmed that the lashed cargo has come-off loose.

Once it is confirmed that the cargo has shifted, following actions shall be taken to prevent further cargo shift and damage –

  • Alter course of the vessel in order to reduce accelerations : If the vessel is experiencing Rough seas it is very important to alter courses in order to ensure that further accelerations and vibrations can be reduced. This will aid in reducing those vibrations which may result in further loosening of lashings.
  • Reduce speed of the vessel in order to reduce accelerations : As stated above, reduction in speed would additionally reduce the chance of lashings getting loosened further
  • Monitor the watertight integrity of the ship : Regular soundings and monitoring of watertight compartments shall be done in order to ensure that hull integrity is not breached
  • Re-stowing and Re-securing the cargo, if possible and restricting its movement : Sometimes it might be possible that the ship’s crew is able to lash the cargo. However, on most occasions, it is possible to secure the cargo in its present position using / fabricating temporary lashing arrangements. In either case, such actions shall always be carried out after a detailed risk arrangements and ensuring safety of life
  • Deviation from the route to seek shelter : Where the circumstances are such that it is impossible for the ship’s crew to secure the cargo, OR, if the extent of cargo becoming loose is such that it is beyond the control of ship’s crew OR the shifting of loose cargo is causing stability concerns for the vessel, Master shall intend to seek a Port of Refuge. Ballasting or deballasting in case of list shall only be done after assessing that the ship will have adequate stability

Steps to avoid shifting and breaking off lashings in project cargoes and containers

  • Ensure that the cargo has been secured and lashed properly at the loading port. Lashings to be secured to appropriate points having the required SWL
  • Ensure that sufficient number of turns are left as an allowance to tighten further in case the lashing becomes loose
  • Ensure that lashing tightening devices are placed at the location which are safely accessible
  • Daily at Sea inspect the lashings and tighten if coming off lose
  • In case the vessel is experiencing Rough Weather, alter course for safety of personnel and inspect and tighten lashings regularly
  • Keep photographs of lashings and securing arrangements in order to prove due diligence at later stage ,if required
  • Ensure that log books are maintained

So, next time you are carrying such cargo keep the above points in mind. Wish you calm seas!

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