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 carried out, poor cleaning can be the cause of cargo claims such as shortages, contamination, or water damage. All that in addition to charterparty disputes arising from delays and/or berthing costs. 

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

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

Standards such as 'hospital’, 'grain’, 'normal’ and 'shovel’ are all in common use and are often included in charterparties. 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 strictest, 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, odors, 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, such that they are likely to become detached and mix with the cargo, are certainly not.

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

„Shovel Clean” requires no washing, only removal of previous cargo by rough manual or mechanical sweeping.

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

To reduce the amount of hold cleaning required for the next cargo, masters can use 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 washing be performed in Polish ports?

The answer is yes it can but… wash water after washing of cargo holds or tanks in the port as per local port regulations must be disposed of to reception facilities in the port. 

MARPOL Annex V regulations are referring to the wash water created from the cleaning up of non-recoverable cargo residues and small quantities of cleaning agents contained within it; this will mainly be in the cargo hold

The Baltic Sea is one of the six MARPOL defined Special Areas where discharge of cargo residues is not permitted. But there is one exception from that rule.

If both the destination and departure ports are within the Special Area and the ship will not transit outside the Special Area between these ports, and no adequate reception facilities (RF) exist, than discharge of non-recoverable, non-HME cargo residues in hold wash water should take place as far out to sea as is practicable and, in any event, no less than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land or the nearest ice shelf.

Source: Steamship Mutual web page

Ship's cargo hold with coal residuals


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