The French specialist in testing, inspection and certification, Bureau Veritas (BV) has developed in-depth technical guidance to provide safe and practical pathways for operators carrying containerised cargo in bulk carriers.
After the increased interest recently by bulk shipping companies to transport containers, such as the Greek Starbulk which carried around 14,000TEU on a 175,000 dwt Capesize bulker, according to Alphaliner, BV has developed a formalised approach to support the safe carriage of boxes in this type of cargo vessels.
BV’s Guidance for Studying and Preparing a Bulk Carrier for the Carriage of Containers provides operators with pathways based on analysis and a thorough understanding of safety, regulatory and operational requirements, while the guidance was developed by technical experts based in the Bureau Veritas Piraeus office, in Greece, in collaboration with the Technical Directorate in Paris.
"We have significant experience and knowledge of bulk carrier design, classification, and operations across BV and particularly here in Greece, where we have numerous clients in the dry cargo market," said Piraeus-based Paillette Palaiologou, BV Marine & Offshore’s Vice President for the Hellenic, Black Sea & Adriatic Zone.
"Additionally, our class rules for container lashing and our own associated lashing software are highly sophisticated. The combination of bulker and boxship capability and understanding has enabled our teams to rapidly provide a framework to meet market requirements as demand emerges for bulkers to be able to carry boxes," she noted.
The guidance outlines two main pathways for stowing containers in holds, either as a ‘block’ of lashed cargo without retrofitting of special container securing fittings, or as more conventional stacks of containers, in which case such equipment may need to be fitted permanently or temporarily.
Check container and cargo seals solutions of HOEFON
The IMO Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (CSS Code) for ships that are equipped with a Cargo Securing Manual, provides a key reference point in its Annex 1 “Safe stowage and securing of containers on deck of ships which are not specially designed and fitted for the purpose of carrying containers”, as well as the calculation methods for forces acting on cargo units and the efficiency of securing arrangements, according to BV.
However, the fact that bulk carriers are “not specially designed and fitted for the purpose of carrying containers”, combined with the potential need to maximise the intake of containers, may raise concerns related to the integrity of the vessel’s structure and the cargo itself, as well as the safety of the crew and the stevedores.
"In many ways, we are going back to the future, as general cargo and multi-purpose ships have always been able to carry containers. In the context of today’s market demands, the capacity to move containers in bulk carriers is a key advantage," added Paillette Palaiologou.