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Published: 18 December 2009      

New guide to the carriage of steel cargo

The guide will help reduce damage in transit, says P&I Club

The Standard P&I Club has produced a guide to the stowage and transport of steel on board ship amid concerns that important cargo handling skills are being eroded by modern practices.

The first of a new series of cargo guides to be produced by the club, the publication follows feedback from club members. It is aimed mainly at masters, cargo officers, shore-side superintendents and chartering managers.

“We are producing these guides as there are serious issues concerning the carriage of cargo. The questions that the club keeps being asked indicate a real need to provide the knowledge to members,” said director of safety and loss prevention, Chris Spencer.

A Guide to the Carriage of Steel Cargo includes advice on where steel should be stored, how and in which direction it should be secured, packing materials, legal aspects and the prevention of common problems such as water ingress, moisture and damage whilst handling. It also spells out the cargo’s officer’s duties during loading.

“Loading cargo in closed containers has eroded some of the traditional maritime skills in cargo stowage and securing that used to be so common," said the Standard’s chief surveyor Eric Murdoch.

"Steel is not generally carried in containers and we increasingly find that crews no longer have the basic knowledge required to supervise stevedores, check for pre-shipment damage, endorse bills of lading and to make sure the stow is properly secured and safe.”

Some of the tips in the 28-page document concern operations, such as the need to supervise stevedores during loading and ensure that the cargo has been inspected for damage when it arrives.

The main part, though, contains pages of detailed advice on technical issues, with illustrations and case histories illustrating where things can go wrong. It includes a check list of ‘do’s’ and ‘dont’s.’

Steel output stands at more than 1.1 Btpa and is forecast to rise next year. The guide was written by Murdoch with advice from Albert Weatherill, managing director of marine consultancy McAusland & Turner Ltd, and Peter Barton, a Hong Kong-based independent marine consultant with China Navigation Co Ltd.

“Because of the way the industry is structured, where a significant number of the seafarers are transient and are moving from one company and one ship type to another, the depth of knowledge handed down and retained in companies appears to be diluting," said Spencer.

"There is a need to fill in that knowledge gap in respect to the carriage of cargo. Our series will attempt to do that."



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