Common problems associated with hatch covers

The Japan P&I Club has published an excellent 26 page guide about hatch covers which can be downloaded at the end of this article. The guide highlights a number of key issues that need to be observed to reduce exposure to ingress and wetting damage claims.

Hatch cover maintenance and operation requires a thorough understanding of basic principles together with type specific issues and requirements. Experience and claims show hatch cover problems still remain one of the predominant causes for claims and accidents on board vessels.

According to the Japan P&I Club, “whilst hatch cover claims are generally associated with wetting damage,it should not be overlooked that incorrect maintenance or operation may involve loss of life and limb or pollution. Moreover, claims for wet damaged cargo, pollution or accidents and injuries will always have an adverse impact on the owner’s business model.”

To avoid hatch cover related claims, operators should consider setting up dedicated training and familiarization programmes related to occupational safety, operation and inspection. Relevant and type specific hatch cover checklists should also be made and their use implemented.

Here are the most common issues encountered with hatch covers.

1. Basic common mistakes

– Insufficient knowledge about hatch covers, not allowing for good inspections and proper, understandable reporting;
– Overestimating the capability of the shipʼs crew for repairs (maintenance and adjustment);
– Omitting to call in specialists;
– Overlooking the importance of involving class when shipboard repairs are carried out on hatch covers;
– Improper and/or temporary repairs by crew;
– Missing manual and/or drawings;
– No proper and detailed on-board instructions for maintenance;
– No maintenance files on board (i.e. PMS) to document maintenance and repairs;
– Hatch covers not included in the Safety Management System SMS and/or Planned Maintenance Schedule PMS;
– No understanding of the due diligence principle and requirements;
– Insufficient spare parts

2. Weather tightness mistakes

– Ignoring discard/replacement criteria (over-compression);
– Replace rubber packing without addressing steel to steel contact issues;
– Installation of backing strips everywhere, even on top of rubber packing;
– Mix of new and old rubber;
– Using old rubber (from shipboard stock and ignoring shelf-life);
– Use of small pieces and filling-in of gaps;
– Improper maintenance of seals and rubber channel (painting).

3. Mechanical mistakes

– Abnormal sounds and/or vibration during operation ignored;
– No greasing and/or no greasing plan;
– Onboard repairs instead of landing panels ashore;
– Ignoring safety issues (heavy and moving equipment).

4. Hydraulic mistakes

– Cleaning filters instead of changing;
– Improper filtering;
– Closing covers without pump;
– Changing of pipes without flushing;
– Valve positions during voyage;
– Ignoring leaks & pollution risk;
– Ignoring high pressure risk.

Download the guide in full: Japan-Club-Hatch-Covers-2022_08.pdf

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