Coal , Iron ore, Mineral ore, Grain, Cement & Woodchips loading in bulk
Bulk carriers are designed to load a maximum deadweight of any type of bulk cargo from heavy ore to light grain . The loading, carriage and finally the discharge of dry bulk
cargo is not as simple or straight forward as most people
Many bulk cargoes have hazardous
properties, or can change their properties on passage.
The ship can be easily damaged by incorrect loading e.g.
loading a forward hold to it maximum can cause the ship
to bend. This ‘stress’ can have life threatening results at
sea in rough weather.
Residues from previous cargoes
can also seriously effect latter cargoes. Water damage can
also have devastating effect on some bulk cargoes e.g.
cement power. It is not easy to verify true weights or
quantities of cargoes loaded or discharged. All these
factors have a serious consequence on the methods of
operation for the safe carriage of bulk cargoes.
Discharging bulk cargo using
Bulk cargoes have an inherent tendency to form a
cone when they are loaded if conveyor belts or similar
systems are not supervised and controlled. The angle
formed by this cone is known as the `angle of repose'
and varies with each cargo. Cargoes such as iron ore
will form a steep angled cone, whereas cargoes that
flow freely form a shallow angled cone. A cargo with a
low angle of repose has the potential to shift during
For some cargoes, bulldozers may
be required to spread the load into
the sides of the holds as cargo is
Outlined below some of the more common bulk cargoes and their properties:
Coal is transported on all types of bulk carriers from handy size to VLCBs.
However, it is not an easy or straight forward cargo to handle. It can emit methane
gas and it is self-heating. In addition coal contains sulphur which causes severe
corrosion when in contact with the ship's steelwork.
In most ports the cargo is loaded
wet to reduce dust. Much of this moisture settles on passage and is pumped out
through the ship's hold bilges which means that less weight is discharged than is
Find out more on ....coal hazards and safety precautions
This cargo is loaded very fast, 10,000 tonnes an hour is not unusual. The
loading and de-ballasting of the ship must be meticulously planned to ensure that the
vessel is not overstressed. There is very little chance of damaging the cargo but the
ship can receive extensive damage during the discharge operation from the equipment
Find out more on ....Safety precautions for loading and carriage of iron ores
Many different types of concentrates are handled in various
parts of the world and in varying quantities. Most of these cargoes are extremely
heavy and have a low transportable moisture limit (TML).
This means that if the
moisture content of the cargo become greater than the TML the cargo can liquefy and
turn into a slurry. When this happens on board, the cargo moves from side to side as
the ship rolls which reduces the ship's righting lever. It does not require much cargo
weight to capsize the vessel when this happens, it a loss of stability due to free surface
effect. Some of the most dangerous cargoes where this can happen are copper, lead or
zinc concentrates, magnetite, limonite and most pyrites.
One of the most difficult and dangerous cargoes
to carry in bulk are grain cargoes. Most grains have an
angle of repose (slip angle) of about 20° from the
horizontal, which means that if the ship rolls more than
20° the cargo will shift. Then this happens the ship will
develop a large list, lying on her side and still rolling will
obviously cause a greater shift of cargo which in turn will
capsize the vessel.
Most authorities therefore request that
the master proves that his ship is capable of remaining
stable even if the grain cargo shifts. This is done by the
compiling of the Grain Loading Form which fully
outlines the ships stability at the worse condition on passage.
Naturally grain cargoes, like any foodstuff, are susceptible
to claims with contamination from a previous cargo and in addition can easily be
damaged by water.
Vermin can also be a problem. Cargo holds must be clean and dry prior to the loading
of any grain cargo and most grain charters demand a survey of the ship's hold prior to
loading for this reason.
Obviously any moisture is going to ruin a cargo of cement but probably a
greater danger to the vessel is the dust that can be produced during the loading and
discharge of the cargo. If it is not removed promptly or gets into the ship's air intakes
it can cause some long term problems to the vessel.
Salt- Salt, strangely enough, is not damaged from water, in fact the cargo can be
loaded slightly moist. However, it can get rust stained from the ship's steelwork,
therefore the ship must cover all the steel within the cargo hold with a lime wash
solution thereby keeping the salt off the steelwork.
Find out more on : Preparations, loading, carrying & discharging bulk cement
Again a supposedly harmless cargo that does have some hidden
dangers. Some shipments many be subject to oxidation leading to depletion of oxygen
and an increase of carbon dioxide in the cargo hold and adjacent spaces. In addition,
woodchips can be easily ignited by external sources, it is readily combustible and can
also ignite by friction. The stowage factor can vary greatly with this cargo depending
on the wood type, the moisture content and the type of loading head used. Even
different loading operators can achieve varying stowage factors with the same cargo.
- Hazards of handling copper concentrate
- Hazards of handling bulk sulphur
- Loading, carrying and discharging of bulk coal
- Special precaution & IMSBC code guideline for handling bulk coal
- Special arrangements for carrying grain cargo
- Grain handling precautions - various limitations
- Safety precautions for loading and carriage of iron ores
- Risk of carrying high density iron ores in bulk
- Salt loading guideline - Precautions & hold preparation
- Pig iron preparations for bulk loading
- Risk of iron ore liquefaction during sea passage & countermeasures
- Preparations, loading, carrying & discharging bulk cement
- Petcoke loading in bulk & associated problems for bulk carriers
- Handling of bauxite - The environmental impact of Jamaica bauxite mining
- Carrying gypsum -Toxins, physical reactions & environmental degradation
- Cargo liquefaction & potential problem for transporting bulk cargo
Operation of sea going bulk carriers involved numerous hazards . Careful planning and exercising due caution for all critical shipboard matters are important . This site is a quick reference to international shipping community with guidance and information on the loading and discharging of modern bulk carriers so as to remain within the limitations as specified by the classification society.
It is vital to reduce the likelihood of over-stressing the ship's structure and also complying with all essential safety measures for a safe passage at sea. Our detail pages contain various bulk carrier related topics that might be useful for people working on board and those who working ashore in the terminal. For any remarks please
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"A ship which is intended primarily to carry dry cargo
in bulk, including such types as ore carriers and
- Bulk carrier types - Ore carriers, OBO ships, forest product carrier , self unloader and more
- Care of cargo during loading- Trimming pours
- Checklist for confirming stabilty and hull stress prior loading
- Cargo loading agreement between ship and terminal
- Bulk carrier loading manual
- Handling of deballasting (ship duties) during high loading rate
- Cargo and ballast handling guide
- Responsibility of ship during cargo operation
- Shipboard hazards & bulk carriers safety guideline
- Asymmetric cargo and ballast distribution for bulk carriers
- Limitations on exceeding load lines
- Risk of deviation from the loading limitations
- Cargo handling guidance for deck officers
Ventilation requirement for bulk cargo loaded
- Preparation for ships carrying bulk cargo & standard loading condition
Monitoring cargo operation safety checks in a bulk terminal
- How to avoid cargo damage by applying proper ventilation methods
- Measures against liquefaction of bulk cargo
- How to plan cargo discharge in a safe manner ?