Job at Sea Guidance : STEEL CARGOES

Whenever the vessel is scheduled to load finished steel products the Master should always contact the office with regard to the appointment of a surveyor.

In order to establish the condition of steel cargo at the time of loading and to ensure the Owner’s position is protected in case claims arise after discharge, particular attention should be paid to the following:

  1. Check hatch  covers  and  associated  packing,  compression bars, etc.  Check ventilators, access hatches, etc. Ensure water tight integrity is not compromised.
  2. As a routine precaution silver nitrate tests are to be conducted especially on steel which appears rusty and/or wet or if the surveyor suspects any salt water or other saline contact with the steel prior to shipment.

NOTE: It should be remembered in this respect that salt is often used in cold weather ports to prevent icing and may land on cargo. Thus, when a test is done at the discharge port it can give the impression that the cargo became contaminated at sea. Salt may also be in the air due to local industrial gasses.

  1. The surveyor should take such photographs as are necessary to best illustrate the state of cargo at loading and include two sets of photographs with his rep rt.
  2. As far as possible the Master is to endeavour to keep the costs of the survey to a minimum and monitor the progress of the surveyor advising the office of the general condition of the cargo by telex at the commencement of loading and if problems rise thereafter.
  3. It will be clear from the above comments that it is essential to clause the mate’s receipt and bills of lading with remarks accurately reflecting the condition of the steel. These remarksfrom Job at Sea should correctly record the apparent rust condition, the presence of any chlorides and  any mechanical damage.
    Great care should be taken in the loading, stowage and discharge of this cargo. In addition to any other customary remarks made upon the mate’s receipt any positive reactions to the silver nitrate test are to be noted in the following terms: “chloride contamination present at loading”.

The appointed surveyor may assist the Master in clausing receipts and bills of lading. However, it must be emphasised that the appointment of a surveyor does not abrogate the Master of his responsibilities. If the shippers insist on clean bills of lading they should present good condition coils that are dry and free of rust.

If all the above precautions are taken there should be adequate evidence to enable the ship owner to reject any claim for handling and fresh water damage. It is more difficult to reject allegations of damage by salt water when chlorides are not detected at the time of loading but are observed at discharge. Accurate records can however greatly assist the owner to define claims. Photographs play a vital role in supporting evidence. Masters should take a good set of photographs of any damage at both the loading and discharge ports.

Points to note and look for are:

.1            Finished steel, usually carried in coils is a common cargo. It has to be handled with care if damage is to be avoided. Such damage frequently occurs during loading or discharging when the side of the coil is permitted to strike some object which results in the plate edge becoming scored or torn. When lifting coils the use of chains and wires should be avoided. Only such gear as broad braid wire slings and “C” hooks should be used. Fork lift trucks should be fitted with circular prong bars.

.2            Before shipment and after delivery, unwrapped coils may spend a considerable period out in the open exposed to the effects of rain and a salt laden sea atmosphere resulting in rust.

.3            Sea water has a devastating effect upon steel products. It is therefore of great importance that the Master makes sure the hatch covers are absolutely water tight and that holds are thoroughly cleaned out with fresh water before loading starts.

.4            During the sea passage, the cargo should be kept in as dry an atmosphere as possible. Any necessary ventilation, mechanical or natural, should be recorded in the deck log book or ventilation record book with air and hold temperatures and dew points. If possible, the surface temperatures of the steel coils, should be recorded and the cargo should be ventilated in accordance with psychometrics values.

The Master is to ensure proper handling and securing of this cargo and pay attention to the permissible loads of the tank tops to avoid over stressing and buckling of plates.

Scrap Steel

This cargo usually stows as an average about 50 cubic feet per long ton and consists of motor blocks, shredded metals and at times very awkward metal pieces. As a rule cushion layers must be first loaded before dumping is permitted.

A danger of this type of cargo is oxidisation which consumes the oxygen within the hold and is an obvious danger to personnel. Entry into the cargo spaces containing this material should only be made with main hatches open and after adequate ventilation.

For dangers of steel and iron scraps, refer to the IMO BC Code.

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