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Planning and control of cargo handling - A brief guide to general cargo ships

Planning and control of cargo handling

Container  transport

All 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. Advance planning, exchange of information, and continuous ship to shore communication are all critical. Key factors will include:

1) Terminal/ cargo data for the ship.

2) Stowage and loading/ unloading plans

3) Communication before and during cargo operations.

4) Monitoring of stevedoring

5) Monitoring the ship's condition and

6) Checking for hull damage


Preparation for cargo handling

Cargo and port information: To plan stowing, loading and discharge , the cargo terminal should provide the ships staff well in advance with :

1) Cargo characteristics, amounts and properties.

2) Availability and any special sequence required.

3) Characteristics of loading/unloading gears,number,

4) Range of movement loading/unloading rates.

5) Depth of water alongside and fairway

6) Water density at berth and any air draft restrictions

7) Maximum sailing draught and minimum draught for safe manoeuvring

8) Terminal requirements/ procedures for moving ship.

9) Relevant local port restrictions ( bunkering/ deballasting etc.)

To minimise cargo shift it is recommended cargo in holds to be trimmed. The ships master should be aware of the possibility of harmful effects from corrosive and high temperature cargoes, and cargoes which may liquefy if the moisture content exceeds a certain limit.

The amount and type of cargo and intended voyage will dictate the proposed cargo and or ballast stowage plan for departure. The officer in charge should always refer to ships approved loading manual to determine a cargo load distribution consistent with the structural loading limits imposed.



If cargo needs to be distributed differently from the loading manual, calculations must always be made to determine , for any part of the voyage , that SWSF, SWBM, block loaded cargo weights and local loading limits are not exceeded.

Ballasting must be considered to ensure : correect synchronisation with cargo operations ; loading rates and imposed structural / operational limits; simultaneous ballasting/de-ballasting of symmetrical port/starboard tanks.

Stress and displacement calculations must be commensurate with the number of cargo pours and loading sequence to ensure that SWSF/SWBM , cargo weights and tanktop/local loading limits remain within limits.

At all times , hull stress limits should be kept below permissible limits.

For each step of the cargo operation, the cargo loading/unloading plan should give a clear indication of :

1) Cargo quantity and corresponding hold numbers.

2) Amount of water ballast and corresponding tank/hold to be discharged/loaded.

3) Ships draft and trim at completion of each stage.

4) Calculated SWSF and SWBM at completion of each cargo.

5)Estimated time for completion of each cargo.

6) Assumed rates of loading/unloading

7) Assumed rates of ballasting/ deballasting

8) Allowances for any necessary cargo operation stoppages

Cargo ships guideline

The MS (Carriage of Cargoes) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/336) (regulation 6) specifies that the owner and master must ensure that:

cargo and cargo units carried on or under deck are loaded, stowed and secured so as to prevent as far as practicable, throughout the voyage, damage or hazard to the ship and the persons on board, and loss of cargo overboard;

appropriate precautions are taken during loading and transport of heavy cargoes or cargoes with abnormal physical dimensions to ensure that no structural damage to the ship occurs and to maintain adequate stability throughout the voyage;

appropriate precautions are taken during loading and transport of cargo units on board ro-ro ships, especially with regard to the securing arrangements on board such ships and on the cargo units and with regard to the strength of the securing points and lashings;

cargo on ships required to carry a Cargo Securing Manual is stowed and secured throughout the voyage in accordance with the Cargo Securing Manual; and

cargo on board all ships having ro-ro cargo spaces and required to carry a Cargo Securing Manual is stowed and secured in accordance with the Cargo Securing Manual before the ship leaves the berth.

Where packaged goods have been packed into or onto a cargo unit, the shipper or forwarder of the goods must ensure that: the cargo is packed and secured so as to prevent, throughout any voyage, damage or hazard to the ship and the person on board; and

if the cargo unit is a container, it is not loaded to more than the maximum gross weight indicated on the Safety Approval Plate attached to the container in accordance with the IMO International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC 1972).


Fuel oil stored in side and double bottom tanks often requires heating to maintain viscosity required for pumping. Heat transfer into adjacent cargo holds can cause problems, the effects ranging from 'toasting' and moisture migration in bulk cargoes to explosion of IMDG cargoes in over-heated containers. Until now, courts have generally regarded the breach as falling within the ship's 'error of management (Hague Visby rules,) so owners could avoid liability. However, when the Rotterdam Rules are introduced, the error-of-management defence will be removed such that owners can be held liable for over-heating damage to cargo.


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.
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  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;.
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  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. .
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  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..
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  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. .
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  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 .
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  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..
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  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 .....



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