marine engineering

Home page||Ship employment ||


Shipment procedure for cargoes in different forms - general cargo ships guideline

General cargo is a term that covers a great variety of goods. In regard to modern cargo handling it refers to loose cargo that has not been consolidated for handling with mechanical means such as unitised or containerised cargo. It refers to individual items of any type of cargo, bagged or baled items, cases or crates, individual drums or barrels pieces of machinery or small items of steel construction.

If general cargo is to be loaded on a ship in general stow it is usually man handled into place. Hence the reason why general cargo is rarely seen in developed countries today, the cost of handling such items is prohibitive and the time taken is unacceptable for most maritime operations.

In stow, general cargo is susceptible to crushing damage from other items of cargo or damage from the ship's steel work, general handling damage, sweat damage and from pilferage. Hence cargo stowed in this state must be protected with suitable dunnage depending on the type of cargo and the risk of such cargo in stow.

For example, bagged cargo if susceptible to moisture damage should never be stowed against the steel in the cargo compartment, some type of dunnage or cargo battens must be placed between the cargo and the steel work.



Cargo susceptible to crushing General cargo must be appropriately labelled. Usually with the port of destination and must be placed in top stow. Food stuff can often taint other cargoes so must be stowed apart. Some cargoes need ventilation and must be stowed accordingly.

Cargo that has a value to any individual must be protected from pilferage, examples of this are shoes and clothing, beer and spirits, grocery items and electrical goods. the consignee's identification, this is called the ‘cargo mark’. And it is this mark that is also shown on the Bill of Lading and the Cargo Manifest.



 International sysmbol for cargo stowing

Fig :International sysmbol for cargo stowing

It is the responsibility of the shipper to ensure that general cargo is presented for shipment suitably packaged to prevent damage in handling. If there is any risk in handling damage then the items should be clearly marked with the international symbols as shown above.

Due to the numerous small parcels making up general cargo, it is usual to tally such cargo onto the vessel while loading and in some instances discharge tallies are also conducted. Cargo quantity on board is confirmed by the ship's officers signing a Mate's Receipt, details from the Mate's Receipt then make up the information on the Bill of Lading.

Tallies, Mates Receipts and thence Bill of Ladings must accurately record the quantity and condition of the cargo. The ship is then obliged to discharge the cargo at its destination in the same quantity and condition as stated on the Bill of Lading. If it does not then the carrier (the shipowner) is liable.

It is important therefore, that any defects, damage, lack of suitable packaging, or any deterioration whatsoever to general cargo sighted by the ship during or prior to loading is outlined on the Mates Receipt. The Bill of Lading must then be suitably claused prior to signing by the ship's Master or his agent.

Obviously the usual type of ship carrying general cargo are general cargo vessels, although it is not unusual for bulk carriers to carry certain types of general cargo such as forest or steel products. In addition it is fairly common for bulk carriers to also carry large quantities of bagged cargo, although this is often referred to a specialised or particular bulk cargo.

Further knowledge of general cargo, types, characteristics, stowage factors and usual packaging can be gleaned from the publication by THOMAS et al entitled “Thomas' stowage : The properties and stowage of cargoes” 4th ed. Glasgow (UK), Brown, Son & Ferguson, latest edition. This is the only comprehensive text book written on the subject and also includes text on operational matters of working a general cargo vessel.

Cargo handling at conventional berth

Fig : General cargo handling at a conventional berth

Carriage of cargo rules for merchant ships

The MS (Carriage of Cargoes) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/336) specifies that the master and terminal representative must agree a loading plan before bulk cargoes are loaded. The plan must be adhered to, and the master may stop loading if the permissible limits are or might be breached.“Cargo” is defined in regulation 2 as any cargo which, owing to its particular hazard to ships or persons on board, may require special precautions, with the exception of liquids carried in bulk and gases carried in bulk. (The Regulations do not, therefore, apply to oil, gas and chemical tankers or ships carrying noxious liquid substances in bulk.)


Summarized below some more details on general cargo ship cargo handling procedure and operational info:
  1. Cargo handling procedure for general cargo ship

  2. Suitable safety nets or temporary fencing should be rigged where personnel have to walk or climb across built-up cargo, and are therefore at risk of falling .
    More .....

  3. Various cargo handling techniques

  4. (a) Technological advances in ship design and lifting equipment (b) Rapid development and increase in the tonnages of bulk cargo (c) The impact of unitisation, and (d) The new and modern techniques of refrigeration, particularly with container carriage.
    More .....

  5. Cargo information rules

  6. The MS (Carriage of Cargoes) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/336) [Regulation 4(1)] specifies that the shipper must provide such information to the operator or master sufficiently in advance of loading to enable them to ensure that: • the different commodities to be carried are compatible with each other or suitably separated;.
    More .....

  7. Cargo packaging - general cargo ships procedure

  8. To achieve compatibility between cargo owners and the owners of the means of transport requires knowledge of the cargo-handling procedures in transport. These procedures are described with reference to major characteristics of commodities and cargoes. .
    More .....

  9. Cargo stowage plan

  10. The copies are forwarded to agents at ports of discharge to allow the booking and reservation of labour, as appropriate. Relevant details of cargoes, i.e. total quantity, description of package, bales, pallets etc., tonnage, port of discharge, identification marks and special features if and when separated .
    More .....

  11. Shipment procedure for cargoes in different forms

  12. General cargo is a term that covers a great variety of goods. In regard to modern cargo handling it refers to loose cargo that has not been consolidated for handling with mechanical means such as unitised or containerised cargo. It refers to individual items of any type of cargo, bagged or baled items, cases or crates, individual drums or barrels pieces of machinery or small items of steel construction. .
    More .....

  13. Information exchange on cargo stowage and planning

  14. Advance planning, exchange of information, and continuous ship to shore communication are all critical. All cargoes should be stowed and secured in a manner that will avoid exposing the ship and persons on board to unnecessary risk.
    More .....

  15. Lifting and carriage of deck cargo

  16. The safe securing of all deck cargoes should be checked by a competent person before the vessel proceeds on passage. The master is responsible for ensuring that it is correctly stowed and adequately secured for the intended voyage. Areas on the deck which are not to be used for cargo stowage should be clearly marked or otherwise indicated. .
    More .....

  17. Safe use of pesticides on board cargo ships

  18. Ship's personnel should not handle fumigants and such operations should be carried out only by qualified operators. Fumigation should only be carried out with the agreement of the ship's master..
    More .....

  19. Types of packaging & stowage methods for break bulk cargo

  20. The rigging time being negligible, and the crane is able to pick up and land permitted loads anywhere within its working radius. .
    More .....

  21. Various commodities carried by general cargo ships

  22. Cargoes should be stowed and secured in a manner that will avoid exposing the ship and persons on board to unnecessary risk. The safe stowage and securing of cargo depends upon proper planning, execution and supervision by properly qualified and experienced personnel. .
    More .....

  23. Methods of ventilation

  24. The holds of most dry cargo ships are ventilated by a mechanical supply and natural exhaust system .
    More .....

  25. Carriage of containers on cargo ships

  26. The process of loading and securing of goods into a container should follow the IMO/ILO/UN/ECE Guidelines for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTUs). Special care should be taken when lifting a container the centre of gravity of which is mobile, e.g. a tank container, bulk container or a container with contents which are hanging..
    More .....

  27. Working in cargo spaces safely

  28. Safety arrangements prior to working cargo should ensure that adequate and suitable lifting plant is available, in accordance with the register of lifting appliances and cargo gear, .
    More .....

  29. Cargo handling procedure for general cargo ship

  30. Suitable safety nets or temporary fencing should be rigged where personnel have to walk or climb across built-up cargo, and are therefore at risk of falling .
    More .....



Machinery system main info pages

Home page||Cooling ||Machinery||Services ||Valves ||Pumps ||Auxiliary Power ||Propeller shaft ||Steering gears ||Ship stabilizers||Refrigeration||Air conditioning ||Deck machinery||Fire protection||Ship employment ||


Home ||




General Cargo Ship.com provide information on cargo ships various machinery systems -handling procedures, on board safety measures and some basic knowledge of cargo ships that might be useful for people working on board and those who working in the terminal. For any remarks please Contact us


Copyright © 2010-2016 General Cargo Ship.com All rights reserved.
Terms and conditions of use
Read our privacy policy|| Home page||