UK P&I Club has highlighted lessons learnt from a recent incident involving cargo damage on a bulk carrier. The cargo holds were cleaned and tested for watertight integrity, prior to loading a full cargo of bulk minerals onto the vessel. Additionally, the operation of cargo hold bilge pumping systems, and water ingress systems were also checked. At the discharge port, wet cargo was revealed at a depth of up to 2 metres above the tank top and upon completion of discharge, it was discovered that sea water had entered the hold due to back-flow via the port side bilge well. The incident gave rise to a substantial cargo damage claim from Receivers.
One of the main lessons learned from this incident was to include inspection and testing of the cargo hold bilge system non-return valves in routine pre-loading checks of the holds. Bilge system valves and pipework should be periodically checked and maintained as part of the planned maintenance system.
Hold bilge sounding pipes should be checked thoroughly and comparisons should be made between the documented maximum pipe height and actual measurement at the deck datum point. The activation of hold ingress alarms should be thoroughly investigated to observe for any discharge.