A cargo securing manual prescribes how cargo onboard a ship should be stowed and secured. It is mandatory to have a cargo securing manual on board an ocean vessel and it guides its users on how to transport cargo safely from one point to another.
For a better understanding of the cargo securing manual let us see how it came about and the organization that is responsible for it.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO)
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) was established in 1948 at an international convention in Geneva. Its main purpose was to provide a platform for cooperation among the different governments of the world, whose ships were engaged in international trade.
Maritime safety, the efficiency of navigation, and prevention of marine pollution caused by marine vessels were its main agendas.
The IMO has three key international conventions.
- International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
- International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)
- International Convention on Standards, Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW)
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) established in 1973, covers pollution to the marine environment caused by ocean vessels during their operation or as a result of an accident.
The International Convention on Standards, Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) prescribes the basic requirements for seafarers on an international level with regard to training, certification, and watchkeeping. It was established by the IMO in 1978.
Here, let us take a brief look at the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) which administers and manages the cargo securing manual for marine vessels.
Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
The disaster in 1912 of the British passenger ship RMS Titanic, after hitting an iceberg, sent shockwaves around the world. The vessel was on its first voyage from Southampton in England to New York in the United States. More than 1500 people died in this accident. The birth of Safety of Life at Sea or SOLAS in 1914 was an outcome of this accident. This convention was modified in 1929, 1948, 1960, and the latest in 1974. It is considered the most important treaty that covers the safety of merchant ships.
The SOLAS 1974 convention, as it is known commonly in the related circles, specifies standards for the construction, equipment, and operation of merchant ships. The provisions included in the SOLAS include the survey of ships and their certification and the control of ships while at the ports of other governments. Each member nation is responsible for following these standards and ensuring the safety and security of their marine vessels.
Chapters VI and VII of this convention are all about the carriage of cargo. It specifies the requirements for stowage and securing almost all types of cargo and those that require special handling. Carriage of dangerous goods is specifically covered under chapter VII and it covers bulk carriers (liquids, gases, etc.), and nuclear ships.
The transport of dangerous goods by marine vessels should comply with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG code). These codes were developed by the IMO and they are updated regularly to include new dangerous goods as well as to update existing provisions.
Any ocean-going vessel that is engaged in the transport of cargo, except solid and liquid bulk cargoes, should have a cargo securing manual onboard.
Cargo on board vessels, such as containers, intermodal freight containers, etc. should be loaded, stowed, and secured following instructions of the approved cargo securing manual of the vessel.
What Does the Cargo Securing Manual Specify?
A cargo securing manual details all the cargo-securing equipment on board the vessel, whether fixed or portable. It specifies their locations and how they should be used to secure the different types of cargo that are transported. This manual also shows details of the chains, lashings, rods, etc. that are used to secure the cargo on the ship.
The strength of the cargo securing equipment to withstand any adverse weather and the rough sea conditions, the methods followed to secure the cargo, and maintenance instructions should be available in this manual.
When the ship is in motion, and especially during bad weather, accompanied by rough seas, the cargo on board is subject to abnormal forces.
Calculating the strength of the available equipment and its accessories such as chains, lashings, etc. to counter these forces and how to fix them accordingly, should be explained in the cargo securing manual. Wherever required, these should be explained with appropriate diagrams or sketches.
A ship’s officers and the crew on board who are responsible for the loading, stowage, securing, and unloading of cargo should be aware of how to use the appropriate equipment correctly for these purposes. They should be aware of its limitations and the correct methods of securing the cargo.
Cargo securing manuals specify the allowable load capacity of equipment that is known as its MSL (Maximum Securing Load).
The SWL or Safe Working Load is the load that can be handled safely by the equipment. The term Standardized Cargo is used to signify the cargo that can be secured normally on a ship.
A Semi-standardized Cargo may be accommodated on such a vessel whereas, a non-standardized cargo requires special stowage and securing arrangements. The manual specifies where each type of item or cargo should be kept.
Only the appropriate cargo securing points mentioned in the cargo securing manual should be used for securing the cargo.
Any structural changes made to such equipment should reflect in the cargo securing manual and they should not be inferior in quality or strength to the originally available ones. Spare or reserve cargo securing equipment should be available on the vessel.
The portable cargo securing equipment used on the ship (as mentioned in the cargo securing manual) should be appropriate to the vessel as well as the voyage and should take into account factors such as expected sea conditions during the voyage, dimensions, designs, and weight of the cargo on the vessel, etc.
A cargo ship may be carrying containers of different sizes. The cargo securing manual should show the stowage position for each different size, the maximum allowable stack of such containers, the maximum allowable stack mass, their sequence of stowage, etc.
The cargo securing manual of container vessels should have a Cargo Safe Access Plan (CSAP).
What is CSAP? It is a plan that provides safe access to the cargo crew of the ship to containers for their stowage and securing.
A cargo securing manual should be prepared in the working language of the crew of the vessel following the recommendations given in the guidelines by the SOLAS.
If it is prepared in a local language, a translation in English, French, or Spanish must be prepared and made available on the ship.
You might also like to read:
- Important Points for Safe Container Lashing
- What is Container Depot; Purpose And Design
- 8 Major Types of Cargo Transported Through the Shipping Industry
- The Basics of Cargo Lashing and Securing on Ships
- What is OOG or Out of Gauge Cargo?
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