Category: Cargo Handling

About the harbor : Schippersgracht – Spliethoff S-Class


Baltimore harbor was visited by a truly unique vessel – Schippersgracht, a Spliethoff S-type.  Never having seen a cargo handling system such as this, an internet search revealed the capabilities of the sideloader.  With 5 sideloaders having capacities of up to 16 metric tons, cargo loading and discharging happens quickly, with a minimum of equipment and protected from weather.

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Cargo Moment : Twin 20′ Lift Gone Bad

The introduction of the standardized cargo freight container changed the shipping industry forever.  From literally weeks to discharge and load a ship, cargo operations are now measured in hours.  Moving tens of tons of cargo at a time is not without its hazards and drawbacks, however.

One of those drawbacks is when a container lift goes badly.  Whether it is equipment failure or operator error, even the highly mechanized operations of loading and discharging containers can sometimes slow to a crawl or stop entirely awaiting the resolution of a problem.

Spreaders fail.  Wires Fail.  Load plans change.  Human error rears it’s ugly head.  Any of these or numerous other factors can make your day go bad very quickly.  What happens next is often up to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of those involved.  For those who have had containers hanging off spreaders, hatch covers fall in the hold or containers jammed in cell guides, you have an idea of what steps to take.  For those who have never been in those situations, it may be time to play, “What if….?” with yourself and have a rough plan in mind.

The TT club looks at the specific problem of 20′ twin-lifts in their latest TT Talk.  Take a look and think about the factors involved.  Remember these safety ideas when working with containers :

1. Do not walk under a suspended load.  Ever.  That hard hat might save your life if a twistlock falls off a container, but will not save you if the container falls off the spreader.

2. On your ship, you are the expert.  Yes, longshoremen conduct cargo operations every day, but they may not know the idiosyncracies of your vessel or may not be as concerned about damage to the vessel.  If you have doubts, stop cargo operations until the situation can be clarified or resolved.

3. If any near misses occurred during cargo operations, make sure they are documented.  By passing along the information, others may avoid the same situation.

Lets be safe out there.

Additional Reading and Links

TT Talk – Costly Pickings : the persistent accidental twin-lift problem

Shipping and Freight Resource : Is the current inspection regime for containers good enough..?

Cover photo courtesy of Felixstowe Dockers

Cargo Gear Inspection : Be Aware!

Every month, the vessel’s cargo gear is visually inspected and determined to be in serviceable condition or in need of some repair.  Such inspections should be taking place before and during cargo operations, as well.  But, what is the crew supposed to be looking at?  What are the indicators of future failure?  The following guide from the UK P&I Club and Lloyd’s Register can assist you :

Survey and Examination of Ships’ Lifting Appliances

Don’t let the lack of proper inspections stop your cargo operations, injure personnel or cause catastrophic failure!