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Safe Loading/Unloading at Anchorage

The new INTERCARGO project – feedback on Safe Loading/Unloading at Anchorage – starts today. INTERCARGO members have been requested to forward the INTERCARGO Report Form (II) (click here to download the Form (II)) to the masters of relevant bulk carriers for completion and sending back to us via email. The design of the reporting items mainly focus on “external factors” – anchorage condition, weather, fendering, steverdore role, personnel transfer, spillage prevention, unauthorised boarding, etc. Adequate attention should also be paid to the “internal factors”, such as:

  • Sharing of experiences and lessons learnt among colleagues ashore and crew onboard;

  • Job specific briefing to crew onboard before loading/unloading at Anchorage;


  • Preparing the plan of ship to ship cargo transfer (STS) operations, not just a standard procedure, but also highlighting specific items relevant to “this voyage”; the STS operations plan for your ship may include, if relevant:

a. guidelines for approach, mooring, anchor holding power and capacity, etc.

b. Guidelines on safe use of cranes including floating cranes;

c. Guidelines on ‘go / no go’ weather / sea / swell criteria;

d. Training and experience of ship staff in carrying out ship-to-ship operations;

e. Assessment of Strength and location/number of moorings, fittings, ropes, winches, etc.

f. Monitoring the stability and strength of the vessels involved including proper cargo planning.


Back information

  1. New INTERCARGO project – feedback on Safe Loading/Unloading at Anchorage

A new NTERCARGO project is to be introduced through a reporting scheme “INTERCARGO Bulk Carrier Reporting Form (II) – Safe Loading/Unloading at Anchorage” as attached, responding to the increasing concerns of some members on issues related to safe loading/unloading at anchorage. The new reporting project will follow the successful model of the existing reporting scheme of “Ship-Terminal Interface Experiences and Problems”. A similar database will be built with entries of “Experiences and Problems” from loading/unloading of bulk carriers at anchorage.

This New INTERCARGO project aims at:

  • Collecting feedback directly from masters of bulk carriers of INTERCARGO members;
  • Experiences and lessons learnt would help raise awareness of all members and implement new company safety procedures on board those bulk carries involved in loading/unloading at anchorage;
  • Common issues, concerns and problems, if relevant, may be brought up by INTERCARGO Secretariat with national Administration and/or local port safety Authorities to implement remedy safety measures.
  1. Guidance to members:
  • What IMO has

The IMO Assembly adopted The Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers (BLU Code)in Nov 1997 by resolution A.862(20), aiming at preventing accidents or loss of ships carrying solid bulk cargoes as a result of improper loading and unloading practices.

  • The BLU Code provides guidance to ship masters of bulk carriers, terminal operators and other parties concerned for the safe handling, loading and unloading of solid bulk cargoes and is linked to regulation VI/7 (Loading, unloading and stowage of bulk cargoes) of the 1974 SOLAS Convention, as amended by resolution MSC.47(66).
  • The BLU Code was amended by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee by resolutions MSC.238(82) and MSC.304(87).
  • The provisions of the Code should be applied with due regard to the provisions of the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code), where applicable.

The IMO Maritime Safety Committee, at its 80th session (May 2005), approved the Manual on loading and unloading of solid bulk cargoes for terminal representatives (BLU Manual).

  • The application of the guidance contained in BLU Manual would address the concerns on risk control options and urged shipowners, ship operators and terminals to apply the guidance contained.
  • Amendments to the BLU Manual were approved by the Maritime Safety Committee at its 87th session by its circular MSC.1/Circ.1356.

Please refer to the attached: full text and amendments of BLU Code and BLU Manual.

  • Experiences shared among INTERCARGO members

Double Banking with barges is common in many global ports – most notably that in New Orleans. Water pressure keeps the two ships separated – especially when current is present such as in NOLA. NOLA barges frequently do not have fendering nor is it required.

No enough equipment for the operation and the amount of “Fendering” to minimize hull damages during landing of approaching vessel. Safety during ship to ship cargo transfer (STS) is critical, masters need experiences, and it is useful to have fendering and tug assistance. Companies need to vet operation to be done, including weather conditions, etc. Risk is a bit higher than say in port, but not significant.

Pollution and hull damage risk is high.

Adequate / suitable ladders are typically not carried on board.  Pilot ladders are frequently used – but when Yokohoma are fitted – they interfere with safe access to the other vessel / barge.

Discussion is made between the Master and the Foreman, not the Masters of two working vessels, and likely short of proper planning of the operation. Adjoining ships come and go….

Environmental issues – difficult to deal with the rejected cargoes or presence of water in the barge. This is common is Southeast Asia like Indonesia and Southern Philippines where rains are common.

Environmental issues are with the local EPA on permissions which cargoes are allowed to handle under which conditions. Standard of cleaning of holds is to be higher than normal stevedoring standards for residue removal; ships are faced with no facilities to take washwater; actual hours spending  on cleaning is likely higher.

Since issues that arise from STS in the bulk carrier sector are less commonplace, bulk carriers that perform STS are less familiar / less well scrutinised in the way tanker lightering companies are.