Inspection, testing and examination of ships lifting gears - recommended guideline

Documents relating to ships lifting gears

All crane wires are supplied along with a test certificate which pertains only to that wire. The certificate must be kept on file, and ready for inspection by the appropriate authorities at all times. The certificates must be marked with the position of the wire, i.e. on which crane the wire is situated and its use, e.g. luffing or hoist wire.



If the wire is held on board as a spare, the certificate must be marked along with the stowage position of the wire. The wire itself is to be tagged and marked with the applicable certificate number. It is the responsibility of the Chief Officer to ensure that this is done correctly, but the Master must keep the file of certificates in his possession along with the chain register.

A certificate must be held on board for every wire on board whether in use or as a spare. If two wires appear on the same certificate, the supplier is to be notified, and asked to supply separate certificates. This is perhaps easier carried out by the Company; therefore, on receipt of a crane wire, which has no separate certificate, the Master must inform the relevant Management Office who will arrange to have separate certificates issued as soon as possible.


Tests and statutory inspections

The Master must ensure that these are always carried out as required by notifying the relevant Management Office well in advance of when such an inspection, test or survey is required to be carried out. The attendance of the appropriate surveyor will then be arranged in a suitable port in ample time.

When reviewing survey status on cargo lifting gear, due attention must be paid to the local government regulations of the vessel's destination; many countries require the cranes to have been tested during a certain time limit prior to arrival in their ports. The age of the vessel is often a factor in determining whether the cranes require such extra tests and the agent and or Charterers representative should always be consulted to determine if any special regulations are in existence.

An example is the regulations imposed by the Saudi Arabian authorities which require all cranes to be inspected by a class surveyor within the previous six months prior to the vessel's arrival at a Saudi Arabian port, if the vessel is over ten years old. If such an inspection is required, the Master must inform the relevant Management Office in ample time to arrange this. These inspections often require the issuance of a special certificate on behalf of the authorities involved. This must be confirmed before hand to ensure that the correct paper work is organised in advance.

All statutory inspections, tests and surveys of cargo handling equipment must be entered in the chain register and duly stamped and signed by the attending surveyor. These surveys are to include all permanently attached hooks, swivels etc. It is the responsibility of the Chief Officer, under the direct supervision of the Master, to ensure that all the permanently attached equipment is always in accordance with that stated on the test certificates, and they are to be clearly marked as such.



Quadrennial thorogh examination

Normally the quadrennial thorough examination will be carried out at the drydocking immediately prior to the expiry date of the quadrennial period. The following is a guide to what will be involved:
  • A visual examination of the crane cargo gear and its associated structure, wires etc, for signs of fracture, wear, etc.
  • A load test of the gear, usually using static weights. The test weight will be S.W.L. plus 25% for cranes less than 20 metric tonnes S.W.L. For cranes with S.W.L. between 20 and 50 metric tonnes the test weight shall be the S.W.L. plus 5 metric tonnes. Cranes with S.W.L. greater than 50 metric tonnes will be subject to weight test of S.W.L. plus 10%.
  • In some cases the yard will insist on drawing the shafts and examining 25% of the working sheaves.

On completion of the examination, the Cargo Gear Register will be endorsed and entry stamped. This will always be countersigned and stamped by the appropriate class surveyor who attended the examination/test.
Where hooks, swivels, chains etc have been re-stamped, it must be ensured that:
  • Where a new test number is used, a new certificate bearing the new number is issued.
  • Where the existing marks are used, they must be re-stamped and the numbers verified. On completion of the survey, the Cargo Gear Register must be properly endorsed on the page reserved for quadrennial surveys, and the marks on the relative crane cargo gear matches the certificates. To this end, it is the responsibility of the Chief Officer to ensure that these requirements are met.

Chain register (Factory act book)

The Chain Register (Factory Act Book) is a legal document of similar standing to the official log book or oil record book and must be treated accordingly. It is a declaration on the ship's part that her cargo gear complies with the regulations.

The book must always be ready for inspection by surveyors who may wish to inspect it prior to taking the ship's gear into use and the Master shall be responsible for ensuring that this is always the case. In the event of an accidence caused through failure of the ship's gear, it would almost certainly be called in evidence.


Inspections by ships personnel

In addition to the above statutory inspections, tests and surveys, it is the Company's policy that the cargo gear is subject to more frequent inspections by a responsible member of the ship's staff, which, for the purpose of these inspections, is to be the Chief Officer for wires, shackles, hooks, swivels, ponder balls etc, and the Chief Engineer for the lifting machinery and plant.

It is of paramount importance that the numbers on all shackles, hooks, chains etc be cleaned up and made legible. Any faults found during such inspections must be rectified and defective parts replaced. The period between these inspections must not exceed six months, and should be more frequent if deemed necessary.

The inspecting Officers are to make a report on their findings and pass this to the Master who will keep them on file in his possession as a record of ship's staff crane inspections. The Master is responsible for ensuring that these inspections are carried out to his satisfaction and with the appropriate frequency.


Lifting gear plan

It is an International requirement that the location of each piece of equipment used for lifting is indicated on a plan which must be available for inspection by a competent authority at any time. One copy is to be kept on the bulkhead of the ship's office and another working copy is to be maintained. It is the responsibility of the Chief Officer to ensure that these are kept up-to-date and are accurate. The plan must contain details of the location, safe working load and certificate numbers of each crane, grab, wire, hook and swivel on the vessel.


Grabs & other handling equipment

If your vessel is required to carry grabs or other cargo handling equipment on board, this is the responsibility of the Chief Engineer, who is to ensure that all repairs, maintenance and tests are carried out as appropriate to maintain the equipment in good working order.

The Chief Officer is responsible for ensuring that the equipment is kept clean and free of previous cargo residues, and that all markings, such as S.W.L. etc are clearly displayed. This type of equipment must be tested at intervals not exceeding three months whether it has recently been in use or not.



Related articles :

Crane safety checks prior to cargo operation

Safe working practice while operating ships lifting equipment






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