The requirements for ensuring the proper stowage and securing of cargo containers are set out in Regulation 5 of The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974 Chapter VI.
These requirements are spelt out in ship-specific detail within the ship’s approved cargo securing manual.
The following are some practical strategies for improving container securing and preventing container loss.
It is essential that cargo securing equipment and fittings are regularly inspected and maintained.
Ship operators should establish maintenance schedules that ensure that necessary inspections and maintenance takes place and is recorded. These, inspection, monitoring and maintenance processes and procedures should be regularly reviewed for continued effectiveness.
The ship’s crew need to monitor cargo securing arrangements throughout the voyage, to ensure that lashing arrangements have not become loose.
Procedures and training
Operators should provide training to ensure crew are familiar with the approved cargo securing manual, in accordance with their specific roles on board.
The approved cargo securing manual should be comprehensive and understandable, as poorly written procedures will likely result in deviation from procedures or non-compliance. It is important to align the manual with the way tasks are actually done (both safely and practically). Operators should regularly review the cargo operations procedures to ensure they are up-to- date, and followed.
Ship’s crews need to be able to implement the requirements of the approved cargo securing manual appropriately. This includes ensuring restrictions such as maximum stack weights and weight distribution within stacks is known and complied with.
Preparing for heavy weather
Containers must be stowed and secured for the most severe weather conditions which may be expected for the intended voyage. Actions to increase lashings should also be considered before conditions deteriorate to the point that they are required.
Monitoring and maitaining cargo securing arrangements
While the safety management system will contain procedures relating to heavy weather, early avoidance is better than sailing through heavy weather. Effective weather routing procedures should be in place. The master should always consult the latest available weather information and operators should ensure that the master always has access to this information.
Due to the construction of container ships, the effects of parametric rolling are pronounced and can cause stress on securing systems leading to container loss4. As such, vessel dynamics should be considered in evaluating sea states and applying weather routing during the voyage to minimise effects of parametric rolling.
• The ship’s crew must be familiar with the approved cargo securing manual.
• Containers must be stowed and secured in accordance with the approved cargo securing manual and the crew should check this before signing off on cargo load.
• Consideration should be given to adding to the lashing arrangements when severe weather is expected.