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Lifting and carriage of deck cargo on board general cargo ships

System of work for deck cargo

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.

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.

To aid unloading at sea to be carried out safely, independent cargo units should, as far as practicable, be individually lashed. Where it is not practical to lash individual pieces of cargo, then groups of lifts intended for the same delivery location should be secured together. Lashings should, where practicable, be of a type that can be easily released and maintained.

All lashings should be checked at least once during each watch whilst at sea. Personnel engaged in the operation should be closely supervised from the bridge, particularly in adverse weather conditions. At night in bad weather, an Aldis lamp or searchlight should be used to aid remote checking of lashings to avoid placing personnel at risk.

Where fitted, pipe posts to restrain the movement of tubulars should be used.

Discarded rope and damaged and unserviceable equipment and cargo should not be jettisoned at sea but retained for disposal ashore. Such materials and articles can foul propellers or cause damage to fishing gear.



Cargo ships law at sea

At common law, the proper place for the stowage of cargo is below deck, since deck cargo is exposed to greater risks (of water damage, loss overboard, lightning, frost, etc.) than under-deck cargo.

Unlawful carriage on deck is usually regarded by courts as being an unjustifiable deviation and is penalised severely. Where a carrier stows goods on deck without express agreement of the shipper, he is breaching his contractual duty. If the wrongly-stowed deck cargo is lost overboard or damaged on passage, the carrier will not be able to rely on any of the exceptions from liability in the contract of carriage, since they can only be relied on whilst he is performing (i.e. not deviating from) the contract .

A court may “set the contract aside”, making the carrier revert to common carrier status. As such, the carrier would then be liable for the cargo claim unless he could prove the loss or damage to have been caused by one of the six common law exceptions outlined as below:

i) act of God, i.e. some unforeseen and unpreventable natural event, e.g. lightning or earthquake;

ii) act of Queen’s enemies, i.e. a State or people with whom the carrier is at war during the carriage of the goods (but excluding robbers, rioters and pirates);

iii) inherent vice in the goods, i.e. a natural tendency of a commodity to deteriorate without human negligence, e.g. fruit and fish deteriorating, liquids fermenting, loss of weight in hides due to evaporation, severe pitting of steel plates not due to atmospheric rusting.

iv) negligence of the consignor, e.g. insufficient or defective packing of goods inside containers or cases;

v) fraud of the owner or consignor of the goods, e.g. where the shipper makes an untrue statement to the carrier as to their nature or value, or their threat to safety as well as (for sea carriers only);

vi) jettison or other proper General Average sacrifice, i.e. when cargo is intentionally and properly destroyed or damaged during the voyage in order to preserve the ship and other cargo from a danger threatening the entire “adventure”.

A sea carrier will not, however, be protected by the common law exceptions when the true cause of the loss or damage to the goods was:

• his negligence, e.g. in not taking reasonable steps to protect cargo from loss or damage;
• his vessel was unseaworthy at the start of the voyage; or
• the loss or damage occurred while the vessel was unjustifiably deviating from the contract.


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 .
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  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. .
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  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 .
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  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. .
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  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.
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  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..
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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. .
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  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, .
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  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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