Cargo holds washing in Polish ports and on the Baltic Sea

Cargo holds washing in Polish ports and on the Baltic Sea

Preparing holds for the next cargo is a key operational aspect on all bulk carriers. If not properly planned and executed, poor cleaning can lead to cargo claims such as shortages, contamination or water damage. This is in addition to charterparty disputes arising from delays and/or berthing costs.

The extent to which the hold needs to be cleaned depends on a number of factors, the most important of which is the next cargo to be loaded.

A number of terms are used to describe cleanliness requirements, but there is no universal definition of these terms.

Standards such as 'hospital’, 'grain’, 'normal’ and 'shovel’ are in common use and are often included in charter parties. However, even when one of these commonly used terms is used, disputes can arise over the required standard of cleaning. This is because what is acceptable as 'grain clean’ in one port may not be acceptable in another.

A general guide to these commonly used terms is as follows:

„Hospital clean” is the most stringent, requiring 100% intact paint on all hold surfaces (including tank top, all ladder rungs and hatch undersides).

„Grain clean” means the hold is free of bugs, odours, previous cargoes, lashings, loose rust scale and paint chips. Holds must be swept, washed with fresh water, dried and well ventilated before loading. Light atmospheric rusting of exposed steel is generally acceptable, but loose rust scale or paint flakes, which are likely to come off and mix with the cargo, are certainly not.

„Normal clean” involves sweeping, washing and drying the holds so that they are ready for a similar or compatible cargo.

„Shovel clean” does not require washing, but only the removal of previous cargo by rough manual or mechanical sweeping.

There is no generally accepted definition of the above terms. It is therefore important to be as clear as possible when describing the required cleaning standard in a charterparty or voyage order.

To reduce the amount of hold cleaning required for the next cargo, masters can use the cleaning facilities at the current port. By removing as much of the previous cargo as possible from the holds, disposal and cleaning costs can be reduced and time saved before the next port of loading.

So, can cargo holds be cleaned in Polish ports?

The answer is yes, it can, but… after washing holds or tanks in port, the wash water must be discharged to port reception facilities in accordance with local port regulations.

The regulations of MARPOL Annex V refer to the wash water resulting from the cleaning of non-recoverable cargo residues and small quantities of cleaning agents contained therein, which will mainly be found in the cargo hold.

The Baltic Sea is one of the six special areas defined by MARPOL where the discharge of cargo residues is prohibited. However, there is an exception to this rule.

If both the port of discharge and the port of departure are within the Special Area and the ship will not transit outside the Special Area between these ports, and there are no adequate reception facilities (RF), then the discharge of non-recoverable, non-HME cargo residues in hold washings should be made as far out to sea as practicable, and in any case not less than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land or ice shelf.

Source: Steamship Mutual web page

Ship's cargo hold with coal residuals


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