The Swedish P&I Club has described the case of cargo damage on a bulk carrier caused by water ingress, as a result of the poor condition of hatch covers.
The bulk carrier had seven cargo holds which had been fully loaded with soybeans. The vessel had side rolling cargo hatch covers. For six days, the vessel encountered heavy weather of force 9 on the Beaufort scale, causing the vessel to pitch and roll heavily. The cargo hatch covers were repeatedly washed over by seawater.
All hatch covers were opened when the vessel was at anchor and waiting for an available berth. This was to ensure the vessel was gas free since fumigation had been carried out in all cargo holds at the loading port. When the cargo hatch covers were removed, it was found that cargo in holds 1,2,3,4 and 7 had been damaged by water. Most of the water-damaged cargo was below the middle cross joint of the hatch covers and below the aft hatch coaming’s corners. According to the master, there had not been any ventilation to the cargo holds during the voyage.
A surveyor carried out an inspection and found the following hatch cover parts to be in poor condition:
– Hatch cover panels
– Hatch coamings
– Water drain channels
– Non-return valves
– Quick cleats
– Rubber gaskets
As a result from this incident, Swedish P&I Club provides the following preparations for crews to have in mind before sailing:
– Before leaving port, the crew should inspect the hatch covers to ensure they are in a weathertight condition.
– Ensure that gaskets and coamings are in good condition.
– It is important that records are kept about what maintenance and service has been completed in the Planned Maintenance System (PMS).
– The crew can ensure that the paint is intact, which will give good protection against corrosion. Corrosion on the hatch cover might cause a hole in the steel construction.
– It is essential that cargo hatch covers are inspected and tested at regular intervals to ensure that the weathertight integrity is maintained and that the vessel is in a cargo worthy and seaworthy condition.