CHAPTER No 6
A variety of methods of discharging ships are available. Most of them such as suction hoses, or self-unloading by means of gravity feed to shipboard conveyor belt are used for special cargoes or ships, and are unlikely to damage the ship.
However, by far the most common means of discharging bulk cargoes is by means of grabs rigged on gantry cranes, luffing cranes or ships cranes or derricks.
Grabs are very strongly made from toughened materials and when carelessly used can cause considerable damage to a ship structure.
Crane drivers who are careless or incompetent are also likely to cause damage, and officers must insist that they work more slowly and safely or are replaced by more skilful colleagues.
The best way to deal with stevedore damage is to prevent it.
A procedure which has helped one shipping company is to paint mark the holds prominently with the positions of all fittings which may be damaged.
From the diagram it can be seen that (1) the inside of the hatch coaming is marked with heavy yellow stripes in way of the forward and after hold ladders. (2) The ladders themselves are prominently painted with yellow paint.
(3) The lower stools are marked with yellow symbols close to the bilge wells and, (4) the lower hopper plates are similarly marked near the double bottom manhole covers.
A thick white horizontal line runs right around the hold 2,4 meters height above the tank top.
These markings when brought to the attention of stevedores, have helped to reduce the damage done by discharging grabs and frontend loaders working in the holds.
When hold marking of this sort is reinforced by officers who keep a careful watch over the cargo and protest in the strongest terms when stevedores appear likely to cause damage that damage can be minimized.
Officers who are out on deck keeping a watchful eye on the deck are also best placed to notice damage as soon as it occurs or to be told about it by passing crew members or stevedores.
Finding stevedore damage.
Stevedores damage is sometime very obvious as when, for example the corner of a grab punches a hole in a top-side tank and ballast water gushes into the hold.
At other times it is much less obvious as when the hatch coaming receives a heavy knock and its deflected 50mm or so out of the true or when the damage is concealed by cargo residues.
The first rule for detecting stevedores damage is for the duty officer to remain on deck for as much of the time as possible, to observe the discharging process and to see the way in which the grab is being used. Damage is found when officers or crew members see it occur or when they are drawn to a problem by a clatter of noise or a babble of shouting.
Every loud bang must be investigated.
Crew members and dock laborers, if consulted, can often draw attention to damage that might otherwise be overlooked and it is worth emphasizing this to the crew, who may not previously have been encouraged to help in this way.
If the duty officer misses those signs then regular tours of the decks and holds, looking carefully for anything wrong can help. Loose chips of paint, blobs of grease, traces of cargo in unusual places can all point to damaged structures.
When main grab discharge is ended frontend loaders are usually lowered into the hold gather cargo from the end of the wings and pile it in the hatch square for discharge by grab.
Trimmers men employed to remove the last of the cargo from the positions which the frontend loader cannot reach, will also enter the hold at the end of the main grab discharge to assist in the discharge of the final remaining cargo.
Standards of trimming vary considerably and the ships officers should inspect the holds whilst the trimmers are working there, to encourage them to remove as much cargo as possible.
This is unnecessary only if the next cargo is to be the same again, and the ship has received clear written instructions that the holds do not have to be cleaned.
Although inspection of each hold should be made as the trimmers are finishing their work, a few minutes before discharge of that hold is completed. That will be the final good opportunity to hold stevedores liable for damage done.
The final inspection for stevedores damage in the hold should ensure:
(1) that no bilge gratings or manhole cover plates are missing,
(2) that the securing bolts have not been damaged,
(3) that all sounding pipes, air pipes, and ballast lines and their pipe guards are intact,
(4) that no new indents can be seen in the plating of the tank top lower or upper hopper sides or at watertight ships bulkheads,
(5) that the ship’s side frames are regular and undamaged, with brackets undamaged, and,
(6) that the hold ladders, platforms , rails, and other fittings are complete and undamaged.
Classes of stevedore damage.
It can be said that there are three (3) classes of stevedore damage.
At one end of the scale is (1) serious structural damage which may affect the integrity of the hull structure and the seaworthiness of the ship.
This includes all damages to
• tank-top plating,
• hopper sides,
• shell plating,
• hatch coamings,
• hatch covers,
• upper deck plating,
• air and sounding pipes, in other words all damages that affects the vessel’s seaworthiness.
Damage of this sort is usually the consequence of an accident and should be reported immediately, directly to the ship’s classification society or through the owners or managers, according to company policy. Where possible the written report should be supported by digital photographs to assist Class in assessing the seriousness of the damage.
The Class surveyor will make a decision as to whether a permanent repair under his supervision is necessary or a temporary repair, backed by a condition of class, will be sufficient. Certificate for the materials used in the repair and for the welder qualifications will be required and should be filed with the vessel’s Enhanced Survey Program..
At the other end of the scale is (2) superficial damage which, in the eyes of the Master, is “fair wear and tear:
Scuffed paintwork, scraped tank tops and coaming edges chafed by crane wires come into this category. It is unreasonable and unprofitable, to try to make stevedores liable for damage of this sort.
The third class of stevedore damage (3) falls between the two extremes and includes
• damage to hold ladders or platforms,
• bilge well or manhole covers,
• ship side rails, and,
• crane or derrick crutches.
Items of this sort do not require supervision by the Class but do require prompt repair and competent repair for the sake of the ship’s safety and efficiency.
When damage has been found.
The foreman or supervisor should be shown the damage and told that stevedores are held responsible.
If the damage was caused by careless or unsafe practices he should be instructed to prevent any repetition.
Owners or managers and charterers should also be promptly informed.
The warning should be backed up promptly with a written stevedores damage report issued as soon as possible ( 24 hours is often the time limit given in the charter party) and supported by photographs. Such written notice is often made on a stevedores damage report form provided by the charterer.
If no such form is available the owners form should be used or a suitable letter can be written if no form is available.
The report should describe the damage and the cause of the damage. Port, date, and time must be stated and the exact location and description of the damage should be carefully entered, so that several years later the damage can be distinguished from other damage, if necessary.
The foreman should sign all copies of the form. He will retain one copy whilst the ship keeps the remainder.
Stevedores show great resourcefulness in finding reasons for not signing the damage form, but their resistance must be met by determination on the part of the ship’s officers.
A signature “for receipt only” or signature denying liability is better than no signature.
If no signature can be obtained the form should be endorsed with “At (time) on (date) completed form presented to stevedore foremen who refused to accept or sign it” and a copy should be given to the ship’s agent to deliver to the stevedores.
Stevedores should never be blamed for damage which really occurred in a previous port. They usually have a good idea of what damage they have or have not caused and if an attempt is made to blame them for damage they have not done there will be little prospect of future co-operation.
Where damage is suspected but there are good reasons why it cannot be confirmed before sailing, the stevedores should be issued with a stevedores damage form, holding them liable for any damage found (eg. after completion of discharge of a part of discharge hold) The reasons why they are thought to have caused damage should be clearly stated. They should be blamed for damage found after they have left the ship if it is certain that they were responsible. Provided that there is a good reason why was not discovered sooner the claim will still be valid. The document should be given or sent to the ship’s agent,
Repair of stevedores damage.
Those stevedores who are well equipped and well organized usually prefer to make good any stevedore damage which they have admitted before the vessel leaves port. Provided that the repair is competent one, made by qualified workmen using the correct materials and, in the case of damage to the ship’s main longitudinal and transverse members and their attachments approved by Class surveyor, this is the most satisfactory outcome for the ship. When repairs are completed by the stevedores, they will want a signature to confirm that the repair has been made, or they will demand destruction of all copies of the stevedores damage form. This is reasonable when a satisfactory permanent repair has been completed, but it should be remembered that further expense will be incurred at a later date if the repair is only temporary, If for example, a patch has been welded over a punched in the hopper side, the stevedores damage form should not be cancelled, but should be endorsed “temporary repair made”.
Stevedores who have made repairs sometimes issue certificates stating for example “Repairs to hold ladders in No.3 hold completed to ship’s satisfaction”.
If the Master has any doubt about the quality of the repair he should endorse the certificate with a suitable comment such as, “Repair to inspected by Class surveyor or Company’s superintendent”. If the stevedores are unable or unwilling to repair the damage it should, unless minor, be surveyed by a reputable surveyor who should also estimate the repair cost.
Completion of repair specification.
The repair specification form will normally require the details which are needed to arrange for the repair, and to estimate price for it, it is impossible to design a form which anticipates the details of every item needing repair, and ship’s officers must give thought to ensuring that all the information needed to plan the job and to price is provided.
Photos and accurate drawings usually help.
The position of the item requiring repair must be carefully and accurately described with reference to a recognizable feature – χαρακτηριστικό γνώρισμα – such as
• hold number,
• port or starboard, and,
• distance in meters, or number of frames, from an independent feature. Additionally the actual position of the ship should be marked.
Often happens that when the time comes to make the repair the person who wrote the item will have left the ship and no-one will be familiar with it. This makes it essential that sufficient information is given to identify the item for repair.
Dimensions of the damage and of the steel work or other material damaged must be given accurately or must be labeled “approximate” in case replacement parts are to be prefabricated. .
Difficulties of access -difficulties which will be experienced by workmen when required to reach the damage – must be fully explained as this will influence the method of repair and its cost.
If the ship has replacement parts aboard and is able to provide the parts needed for the repair, this should be stated. Any need for staging must be stated so that due allowance can be made for this expensive item.
Stevedores’ damage which has been the subject of a report this should be shown on the repair specification.
Arranging for the repair.
The chief mate will normally make the first decision as to who is to make the repair and when and how it is to be done.
Minor items of repair, such as the renewal parts for hatch cover fastenings or cargo gear, will be completed as routine maintenance by the deck department and do not need to be reported in a repair specification.
Stevedores damage should where possible always be repaired by the stevedores in the port where the damage occurred, and the chief mate (supported if necessary by the Master) will of class approved, try to ensure that this is done.
The first step is to bring the damage to the attention of the stevedore foremen as soon as it is seen or found, and this must be followed immediately by a written stevedores damage report, providing details of the damage and how it occurred, and holding the stevedores responsible for making good the damage.
Standard form for this purpose are provided by most owners and charterers.
The form should be given to the stevedore foreman and his signature obtained to acknowledge responsibility or, failing that, to acknowledge receipt of the document.
In some circumstances a temporary repair will be allowed by Class or will be necessary for the ship to complete her voyage to a port where repair facilities are available. Temporary repairs may take the form of a steel doubling plate ?? welded over damaged steelwork to prevent leaking, or of a cement box, ?? also usually used to prevent leaking. Such repairs do not return the structure to its former undamaged strength and water tightness, and the item which has been temporary repaired will be listed for a permanent repair of the next dry docking ?? or sooner (soonest possible at next port?)
For more expensive and complicated damage Class will be consulted and the chief mate will normally also consult the chief engineer and the Master, and enquiries may be referred to the ship’s manager or superintendent. Provided that the ship’s staff have the necessary skill, tools, materials, and time it is always best for the repairs to be completed by ship’s personnel, since this will normally be the cheapest and most efficient alternative.
It should be obvious, but is worth stating, that efficient repairs of deck equipment and fittings by the ship’s engineers are most likely to be achieved when there are good working relations between the departments. These are the most likely to exist when each department keeps the other informed of problems and when the advice of the engineers on the maintenance and operation of mechanical equipment is heard with attention, The training of engineers normally ensures that they have a good knowledge of the principles of using and caring for machinery. This is much less certain in the case of deck ratings and officers: those who have an interest in their work can learn a lot from the engineer colleagues. When repairs cannot be done by stevedores or ship’s staff a decision must be taken as to the best way of obtaining assistance from ashore. This is a decision which the Master and his senior officers are authorized to take on some ships, whilst on others they must refer the problem to the shore based management.
The decision whether to use a local repair team, a specialist firm or a riding squad to make the repair or to add the item to the dry dock ?? list will be influenced by a number of factors.
If the ship cannot operate safely until the repair has been completed the work must be done immediately a major repair to the hatch covers such as the repair of damage hinges for folding hatch covers would come in this category and would be best done in consultation with the manufacturers.
A defect which affects the ship’s efficiency or incurs time off-hire such as damaged crane, will be repaired as soon as parts and labor can be arranged at an economic price. The more urgently the crane is needed the higher the price worth paying for repairs.
Use of a local repair firm in the port where the ship lies will be a sensitive option when urgent work must be done and the ship lacks the equipment, the time or the expertise.
This option will be chosen from time to time.
There is a role, too, for riding squads: workers who are contracted to travel with the ship for a period of days or weeks to complete particular items of work. Riding squads maybe employees of the ship-owner who move from ship to ship within the fleet doing particular work or they may work for repair for repair firms. The benefit of employing a riding squad is that it supplements the ship’s work force and can undertake work which the ship’s crew do not have the time and / or the expertise to carry out efficiently. If brought aboard at suitable times they can work in favorable conditions, without delaying the ship. Riding squads have been used for jobs such as the renewal of the rubbers in steel hatch covers and the renewal of a ship’s deck hydraulic pipework. Such work is usually best done on ballast voyage when the decks are dry and there is no possibility that a mistake can result in damage to the cargo. They offer a useful solution when there is a major maintenance / repair problem.
When the damage reduces the vessel’s value but has little or no effect upon her safety and efficiency, repair is likely to be deferred until the next dry docking. Indentations in the vessel’s shell plating sustained from contact with tugs, fenders and dock walls come into this category, as does minor stevedores damage. Steel work which has been weakened by wasting is normally renewed in dry dock unless it is clear that the need for renewal is so urgent that it cannot be deterred until then. In dry dock full repair facilities are available and repair work can usually be done more cheaply.
Defects are source of worry and inconvenient for those who serve on ships and is a great relief when the time comes for damage to be made good. The time for celebration however, comes only when the repairs have been successfully completed. If repair work is not properly supervised there will be plenty of opportunities for mistakes to made.
It is unwise to assume that repair workers are fully informed, trained in safety procedures, competent in the work they have been given and committed to doing a faultless job.
They may be, but it would be a great mistake to rely upon it.
The ship’s officers should be familiar with the details of the repair which is being undertaken. An officer should be present when the work is commenced to ensure that the right place is found and that conditions are safe for the work to start. The correct repair materials must be used. Special welding rods, for example, are required for the welding of special steels, and this is a fact which could easily overlooked by stevedores repair squad. The work should be inspected from time to time as it proceeds. Often workers who are having difficulties will say so quit openly. Even an officer who is not an expert in repair techniques can detect when the work is not going according to plan and can obtain expert advice. A messy, irregular repair gives warning that the repairer is incompetent, or is having difficulties. When a repair has been completed it should be inspected by a ship’s officer and, where is necessary, by vessel’s Class. Where possible it should be tested. Moving equipment should be operated to ensure that it turns smoothly as required.
Watertight features should be tested by filling the compartment or by hose testing, as appropriate. When the repair is permanent and has been completed satisfactory, the repair specification should be canceled and the owners / company should be informed that the item in question can be deleted from the repair list.