Hatch cover inspections
Cargo hatch covers are important for the safety of the vessel, crew and cargo.
A number of reported casualties are related to the loss of weather tight integrity due to failure of securing and locking devices.
In addition, cargo hatch covers are to protect the stowed cargo in the holds from damage due to water ingress, particularly if the cargo is sensitive to water damage.
It must be noted that a significant portion of all cargo related claims are caused by water damage and many of these are related to sea water ingress through cargo hatch covers.
Hatch cover inspections – typical physical defects
The typical physical defects which lead to claims related to water damage are –
1) The rubber packing is beyond the point of replacement.
2) The seal is worn / torn, displaced or missing or indented.
3) Wastage of resting / support pads.
4) Blocked non – return drain valves.
5) Wasted cross – joint drain channels.
Hatch cover inspections – IMO implementation
The IMO has implemented a standard scope of inspection and maintenance so that bulk carrier hatch covers will be taken care of by owners and operators.
The PMS (planned maintenance schedule) program (as a part of the SMS – Safety Management System) which is stipulated by IMO is directed to the following points broadly –
1) The overall structural strength is to be preserved by protecting the exposed surfaces of the hatch cover plating and stiffness.
2)The surface smoothness and correct profile of trackways of rolling covers, compression bars and other steel work bearing on seals or friction pads are to be preserved to reduce wear rates on these components.
Trackways are therefore to be kept clean and adequately oiled.
3) The hydraulic or mechanically powered opening, closing, securing or cleating systems are to be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
All parts that move when operating the covers are to be kept in a good condition.
Besides this all other movable parts are to be regularly greased.
4) Where it has been identified that resting pads, compression bars, seals etc. are to be replaced due to significant wastage, wear or loss of adjustment capability – the adjustment of the manual cleats is to be maintained.
5) Seals and other wear components are to be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations or on indentations.
It should go without saying that after each cargo operation – the coaming tops and cross joint channels are to be cleaned by removing any loose scale or cargo residue.
A hatch cover inspection and maintenance routine which fits chronologically into the hull inspection and maintenance plan has to be implemented. The IMO standards lists a number of hatch cover items which are to be inspected on each voyage cycle but not more than once per month.