Hatch Covers – important pieces for cargoworthiness
Hatch covers are crucial for the safety of the vessel and cargo, hence correct hatch cover operation, maintenance and inspections are important and need to be carried out in a professional manner to reduce the risks of wetting damage to cargo and ensure vessel’s seaworthiness and safety of the crew, and protect the environment. Further, adhering to rules, requirements and best practice will help to avoid disruptions of the cargo flow and ensure that shipping remains a viable and sustainable industry.
Within the legal framework, the International Convention on Load Lines is one of the most important conventions related to hatch covers, which require them to be strong, tight and well secured in order to remain weathertight and withstand the elements of an ocean.
The inspection of hatch covers for tightness is more than checking the packing rubber alone. A proper inspection will require a detailed visual inspection of all hatch cover component parts, as well as a test to confirm tightness. This dual requirement, i.e. the need for a visual inspection and a test, does away with the common but false belief that when hatch covers pass an ultrasonic or hose test, they are weathertight and fit for duty.
Unfortunately, not everything can be prevented, controlled or avoided and especially on-board vessels one should be prepared for the unexpected. If problems or mishaps occur, it is important that the owner’s rights can be preserved and defence for eventual legal action prepared. In such situations, it will be important to prove that due diligence has been exercised and being able to document that hatch covers have received proper maintenance.
The aim of this monthly theme is to provide useful information regarding hatch cover maintenance, operation and inspections. The material is based on latest facts and news about hatch cover maintenance. Alandia also offer a free of charge course on Seably with useful knowledge in hatch cover maintenance to crew, superintendents, surveyors etc.
Source: IMCS Group survey on 200 vessels.
- Hatch Cover maintenance is not difficult or expensive
- Hatch Covers are fairly simple
- Hatch Covers have long technical life-time
- Hatch Cover weather tightness is not difficult to obtain and maintain
When testing and inspecting hatch covers, the following typical issues are identified below.
- Insufficient knowledge about hatch covers, not allowing for good inspections and proper, understandable reporting
- Overestimating the capability of the ship’s crew for repairs (Improper/temporary repairs by crew & adjustment)
- Overlooking the importance of involving classification society when shipboard repairs are carried out on hatch covers
- Missing manuals/drawings – no on-board instructions for maintenance
- No maintenance records and history on board (PMS and hatch covers not included in SMS)
- Ignoring discard/replacement criteria for packing rubber (over-compression)
- Replace packing rubber and not fix the bearing pads
- Installation of back strip rubber everywhere
- Using old rubber packing (from shipboard stock and ignoring shelf life) and mixing of new and old rubber packings
- Use of small pieces packing rubber and filling-in of gaps
- Abnormal sounds and/or vibrations during opening/closing operation ignored and unreported
- No greasing, or greasing plan
- Cleaning hydraulic oil filter instead of changing it and changing hydraulic pipes without flushing
- Closing hatch covers without hydraulic pump