The Standard P&I Club has issued an advisory note on the carriage of wood pulp.Wood pulp is a wood fibre which has been reduced chemically or mechanically to pulp. It is used in the manufacture of paper. The product has a high moisture content and can be susceptible to damage if not carried correctly. The carriage of wood pulp requires the vessel to comply with stringent requirements. These demand that all holds are in top condition; clean, dry, no loose paint and no rust.
It is imperative that operators take all possible steps to ensure holds are of satisfactory condition. It is well known that paper factories do not accept contaminated pulp or pulp contained in contaminated packaging.
The high moisture content in wood pulp means that during the carriage of the cargo the moisture will migrate outwards from the heart of the stow from warm to cold areas. Some of the moisture will be absorbed into the air and this will then condense on the cold areas of the hold and cargo. The process of condensation in itself is not harmful but the wood pulp will expand locally as a result. Consequently the units are pushed against the sides of the hold which will cause damage to occur during discharge. Furthermore, in extreme circumstances the swelling of seriously wetted bales has resulted in structural damage to the ship.As such, ventilation of the holds is of crucial importance for both the vessel and the cargo.
Common causes of damage:
The most common causes of damage to wood pulp during carriage are as follows:
The holds are not washed prior to loading.
Dust/dirt in the hold;
Lack of ventilation;
Unpainted and rusty spots/areas together with condensation; or
Usually, a representative of the shippers will board the vessel at the port of loading to inspect and approve the holds. This inspection is not always performed by an experienced surveyor but sometimes by a stevedore. Consequently only extreme defects are noted and thus in the majority of instances the holds will be approved. Despite this approval the onus is on the shipowner to present a ship with a hold suitable for the cargo to be carried. As such, we strongly recommend that these preventive steps are taken to try and deter a claim:
Ensure the holds are clean and suitable for the cargo;
Ensure that the ventilation of the hold has been checked and is of satisfactory quality; and
Ensure that the holds are appropriately painted
Holds that are not in perfect condition are likely to result in claims for damaged cargo.