Reducing the risk of liquefaction onboard

The threat of liquefaction onboard remains as ominous as ever. This new guide will help.
The threat of liquefaction onboard remains as ominous as ever. This new guide will help.

London P&I Club has released a joint publication, in association with TMC Marine and Bureau Veritas. The aim of this excellent guide is to give operational guidance for vessels that carry cargoes which could be subject to liquefaction. The Club says that, although significant progress on the issue has been made so far, the liquefaction phenomenon continues to be as relevant today as it was years ago.

While the main requirements for the safe carriage of solid bulk cargoes are enshrined in the IMSBC Code, this booklet outlines the precautions operators should take before accepting cargoes for shipment and the procedures they should follow for the safe loading and carriage of the nominated cargo.

In addition, operators still need to consult the Code to check whether the cargo you are about to carry or carrying complies fully with the Code. Please note that the IMSBC Code is mandatory under the provisions of the SOLAS Convention. However, some parts of the Code continue to be recommendatory or informative and therefore in the context of the language of the Code, the words “shall”, “should” and “may”, when used in the Code, should be taken to mean that the relevant provisions are “mandatory”, “recommendatory” and “optional”, respectively. The report features some safety guidelines needed before and during loading.

Prior to the commencement of loading the master should satisfy himself and confirm that:
The cargo holds are clean and dry, and the bilges have been tested.
The hatch covers close correctly and are weathertight.

The following should also be carried out by the shipper and the master:
The shipper should provide the master well in advance with the appropriate information on the cargo as per requirements found in Section 4.2.2 of the IMSBC Code.
This information should be accompanied by a declaration by the shipper (Section 4.2.3).

The master should check, based on the information provided on the cargo declaration, whether the cargo can be safely carried on board the vessel or whether additional information is required.

The shipper should provide the master with a signed certificate of the TML, and a signed certificate or declaration of the MC issued by an entity recognized by the Competent Authority of the port of loading (Section 4.3.2).

The master should check that the laboratory test undertaken ashore to determine the TML of a cargo has been conducted within six months of
the date of loading the cargo3 (Section 4.5.1).

The master should check whether the testing of the MC of the cargo that is being presented is as near as practicable to the time of loading, and not more than seven days (Section 4.5.2).

If there has been significant rain or snow between the time of testing and loading, check tests (laboratory tests, not can tests) should be conducted to ensure that the moisture content of the cargo is still less than its TML.

It is a master’s responsibility to ensure that his/her vessel is safely loaded. If a shipper’s declaration has not been provided and has not been forthcoming, then the master should not start loading and immediately notify the vessel’s owners.

During the loading operation the master should:
Arrange for the deck to be adequately manned so as to carry out a visual inspection of the cargo being loaded.
Be aware of the build-up of water pools or splatter on the bulkheads – this indicates excessive moisture.
Continue to systematically carry out and record ‘Can Tests’ as described above.
Restrict the ingress of water and not load during periods of rain fall.
Make sure that the hatch covers of all non-working holds are kept shut.
Ensure that, if the cargo is being loaded from barges, the barges are adequately covered during periods of precipitation and water ingress. If this is not the case, the master should not accept any cargo from these barges unless the moisture content has been re-established.

If the vessel encounters prolonged periods of precipitation during the loading period, request check tests to ensure that the MC of the cargo is still less than its TML.

Prior to completion of loading, ensure that the cargo is reasonably trimmed (as per dry bulk cargo good practice).

On completion of loading, ensure that the hatch covers are closed and secured as required.

If during loading the master has reason to suspect that the MC is in excess of the TML, he/she should stop loading the cargo and inform the owners. The master may issue a ‘Letter of Protest’ and seek further advice from the P&I Club.

Download the London P&I Club liquefaction guide: London-PI-Club-Reducing-the-risk-of-liquefaction-2017_03

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