Lack of maintenance leading to costly wet cargo damage

Lack of maintenance leading to costly wet cargo damage

Wet damage to cargo on bulk carriers and container ships is a recurring problem and is often due to lack of maintenance, confirms the Swedish P&I Club.

According to the club’s latest report, Claims at a Glance, wet damage to cargo accounted for 20 per cent of cargo claims on board bulk carriers between 2013-2017. This is the second highest type of claim between those years, and the costliest. For container vessels, wet damage was the join highest claim alongside temperature damage.

The most common cause of cargo damage is due to seawater entering the cargo hold. This is due to leakage in the sealing system between the cargo hatch covers and the coaming.

In one example, a bulk carrier loaded with grains had side rolling cargo hatch covers. For six days, the vessel encountered heavy weather, which caused it to pitch and roll heavily. During the voyage the cargo hatch covers were washed over by seawater. It was found that the cargo had been damaged by seawater due to lack of ventilation to the cargo holds during the voyage. A surveyor found that some hatch cover parts were in poor condition, resulting in seawater leaking through the middle cross joint drain channel and through the corner of the hatch coamings.

The Swedish Club says crew must inspect the specific parts and equipment for the cargo hatch covers as directed before departure to avoid leakage. Before loading, completion of loading and after discharge, the crew should inspect the hatch covers to ensure they are in a weathertight condition.

Cargo hatch covers should be inspected and tested at regular intervals to ensure weathertight integrity is maintained. Records regarding what maintenance and service has been completed should be recorded in the Planned Maintenance System (PMS).