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Cargo oil loading preparations for oil tankers

Prior loading oil cargo in a tanker vessel require utmost diligence in planning and most careful consideration will need to be made for a safe operation. Following are the basic procedure fo a quick guidance prior loading oil cargo.

Preparation of the Cargo Plan- The Chief Officer shall prepare a detailed cargo oil loading plan prior to arrival discharge port. The loading plan shall be posted in the CCR at a conspicuous location, and distributed to all personnel directly involved in the discharge operation.

The loading plan should be signed to confirm that personnel have read and fully understood the plan. The Chief Officer shall also prepare a watch schedule and Person in-Charge list for oil transfer operations for the discharge operation.

cargo loading manifold for oil tanker
Fig: cargo loading manifold for oil tanker


Prior to commencement of loading operation the Chief Officer shall conduct a “Pre transfer cargo safety meeting” with all the concerned crew and shall have a duty officer read aloud such loading plan to all the attending officers and crew.

Special details, port requirements and special precautions or procedures should be discussed with all personnel involved in the loading operation.

Preparing of Ballast Pumps

The Ballast Pumps shall be in all readiness prior to arrival at loading port.

Cargo Oil Transfer Check Lists.

The Chief officer shall complete the following check lists prior to, during and upon completion of cargo oil transfer operations.

The Chief Officer, after confirmation, shall affix his signature on the related checklist. The Master, shall then sign on the completed checklist.

Display of warning notices and signs

Hose Connection

The chief Officer or deck duty officer must be in attendance during connection of cargo oil transfer arms / hoses.

Line Clearance And Hose Draining (ISGOTT 11.1.15)

Connection and disconnection of hoses or chicksans is to be supervised by a responsible officer.

Some ports may provide terminal personnel / third parties to assist the vessel crew with connecting and disconnecting the transfer hose or chicksan arm. These personnel remain under the supervision of the responsible officer and should any actions be taken by them that do not comply with these procedures the operation shall be stopped and the process reviewed and re-assessed as necessary.

Line clearance and hose draining shall be subject to risk assessment which shall include all design considerations such as location of drains, whether cargo is held within the hose or piping / valve system with height which could result in a hazard due to gravity, method of operation and control of cargo valves (hydraulic / manual).

The procedure for draining lines and hoses shall be documented within the chief Officer’s standing instructions / port specific cargo plan and shall consider the following:
  1. The procedure for line and hose / chicksan draining shall be discussed at the safety meeting conducted prior to commencement of operations. The procedures and hazards shall be communicated to all involved including STS co-ordinators etc. Draining must also be carried out according to shore requirements – e.g. air blowing is not allowed at some terminals, care must be taken that shore instructions do not result in introduction of the risk of cargo spillage.


  2. The tank to which draining is affected shall have sufficient ullage, and the tank pressure reduced to the minimum positive (around +20 mmwg).


  3. To prevent inadvertent spillage of oil all manifolds and shore lines must be well drained on the completion of cargo operations and before disconnecting hoses / chicksans. Vacuum breakers shall be carefully operated to ensure effective draining. Line draining and final flexible hose draining should be undertaken as separate operations.


  4. Cargo manifold valves shall not be opened unless hoses / chicksans are fully connected or the manifold blanked. This is especially important when a hose is disconnected and remains un-blanked when hoisted for drainage purposes during STS operations.


  5. Before disconnection, it must be ensured that all ship and shore / STS vessel valves are closed and that drain valves are carefully controlled. All valves must be operated slowly and carefully to allow controlled pressure equalisation.


  6. Cargo lines and manifolds must only be drained using fixed stripping pumps and/or pipework which allow direct discharge to a slop tank / cargo tank. Under no circumstances must cargo lines and manifolds be drained into the manifold saveall / pumproom bilges. Whenever possible, cargo lines should be drained by gravity.


  7. Manifolds must be blanked immediately after disconnection. If necessary, ship lines draining could then be resumed separately.


  8. The use of plastic spill containers for drips during manifold sampling and connection/disconnection of cargo hoses / arms is prohibited. Static electrical hazards are created when using plastic containers –even when there is provision for bonding with the ship hull. Spill containers must be drained to appropriate tanks with due regard to any toxicity and compatibility requirements.


  9. Ensure a crew member remains at the vessel’s manifold valve for controlling pressure. The plan of line clearing must be systematically followed in order to be effective.


  10. Good communications between all parties involved in the line clearing operations are of paramount importance.


  11. The appropriate PPE must be worn by all personnel involved in the cleaning operations; any personnel not involved in the operation must be kept clear of the area.Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury or infection. The hazards addressed by protective equipment include physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards, and airborne particulate matter.


  12. The choice of clearance medium (air / nitrogen) must be considered carefully as the choice of the wrong medium may affect both the safety of the vessel and the cargo quality. Compressed air may contain water/oil vapour / droplets resulting in static electricity hazards.

The clearing of hoses and loading arms to the ship using compressed air should not be undertaken due to the risks of:
When compressed air or inert gas is used to clear ship’s pipelines, for example, when evacuating the liquid column above a deep well pump, similar hazards to those identified above may arise and similar precautions must be observed. Line clearing operations must be undertaken in accordance with the operating procedures established for the particular ship.

A strong electrostatic field can be generated by blowing air or inert gas into the bottom of a tank containing static accumulator oil. If water or particulate matter is present in the cargo, the effect is made worse, as the rising gas bubbles will disturb the particulates and water droplets. The settling contaminants will generate a static charge within the cargo. Therefore, in an un-inerted tank, a settling period of 30 minutes should be observed after any blowing of lines has taken place into a tank.

Precautions should be taken to minimise the amount of air or inert gas entering tanks containing static accumulator oils. However, it is best to avoid the practice of blowing lines back to tanks containing cargo.

Although the line clearance procedure should, if correctly and methodically carried out after each cargo operation, remove all liquid from the cargo lines, the following checks must be carried out -:
Cargo Oil Transfer Meetings with Terminal representative

The Master, Chief Engineer and Chief Officer must attend and carry out a “pre-transfer cargo safety meeting” with the shore facility representative to ensure full agreement with the cargo oil discharge plan, and to agree on method of communication during emergencies.

Liaison With Shore

Prior to commencement of operations, all procedures must be agreed with the Terminal or shore representative and an ISGOTT style ship shore checklist completed. During all cargo and associated operations at a terminal, the Officer-of-the-Watch on deck must maintain a close liaison with terminal personnel. An agreed system of communication and control must be established before operations begin, and be maintained until all operations have been completed. The emergency signal to be used by the ship and shore must be agreed and clearly understood by both.

Whilst alongside, all terminal regulations must also be complied with. Where differences of detail exist between the Company and the Shore regulations, the more strict set shall apply, unless the safety of the ship will be adversely affected.

Ship’s personnel must maintain awareness of operations and activities ashore and in the vicinity of the ship and if such activities create a hazard to the ship, the shore authority must be requested to rectify the situation. If necessary shipboard cargo operations are to be suspended until a satisfactory solution has been achieved.

The “Ship/Shore Safety Check List” or relevant “Ship to Ship Transfer Check List” must be completed and signed for in agreement by both parties after successful completion of safety checks and confirmation and prior to starting of operations.

Dry Survey / OBQ survey

• The cargo tanks readiness is to be confirmed by the attending Surveyor / Loading master. He shall be escorted by a responsible officer. Upon completion survey, obtain the surveyors certificate / acknowledgement on ship’s document.

• The vessel is to prepare dry certificate (OBQ Certificate, as required), upon completion of inspection and the same shall be acknowledged from the attending official. If available, copy of the surveyor’s document to be retained onboard.

•Closed method of dipping such cargo tanks shall be followed.

Cargo documents and Information required for Surveyors at Loading ports
> Dry certificate at discharging port(s)
> Vessel Experience Factor
> Cargo Tank History
> Slop certificate, if applicable
> Arrival & Departure / Tank condition of Water Ballast Tanks and Fuel Oil Tanks
> Cargo Oil Tank Ullage Table
> In-tank bottom line Capacity Information
> The Vessel Particular
> Pre-loading plan



Lining up Pipelines and Valves

Prepare the lines of the designated tanks to be loaded.

> Suction valves for tanks are not to be used suitably marked and protected from accidental miss-operation.

> Carry out the filling of the separator with utmost caution, taking care to avoid ”Liquid Hammer”.

> Ensure that the IG pressure of the tanks are always maintained positive during the loading operation.

> Re-confirm the all Vapor Equal Live and Manifold Drain valves 0are closed, prior to start loading.

> Prior to commencing loading, the cargo tank line valves to be set as per the plan for start of loading.

Use the ship specific ‘Valve Checklist” prudently.

> Valves not in use should be secured and lashed shut. Check that all ballast tank lids are closed. They are to remain closed throughout the loading operation.
Oil tanker QUDS underway
Fig: Oil tanker QUDS underway


> Line / Valve settings are to be supervised and checked by the Watch-Officer and re-confirmed by the Chief Mate.

> The manifold drain valves must be shut and the Duty Deck Officer should confirm them shut.

> Unless an operation is in progress all manifolds shall be shut and all lines not connected to the shore line, including the offshore side, must have the manifold blanks secured by all the nuts and bolts; said nuts and bolts must be tight.

> The Duty Deck Officer stationed at the manifold when starting loading must confirm to the Chief Officer in the CCR that the correct manifold(s) are open and that the other manifold(s) including the offside manifolds are closed and blanked. Pressure gauges are fixed and covers removed.

> The order for opening of manifold valve shall be under the chief officer’s permission.

Precautions for Loading Heated Cargo

Unless the ship is specially designed for carrying heated cargoes, cargo heated to a high temperature can damage a tanker’s structure, protective coatings and equipment such as valves, pumps and gaskets.

• If heated cargoes have not been loaded since the previous 3 months prior, then prior to loading heated cargoes, a “Steam Trial Test” shall be carried out.

• The steam traps shall be maintained in accordance with the maintenance schedule.

• Vessel should check that the proposed loading temperature does not exceed the maximum loading temperature for cargo valves and / or tank coating limitations.

• Cargo plans should take into account changes in ullage space due to cargo temperature fluctuations, with special regard to expansion of cargoes.

• On loading heating cargo, special precautions shall be taken to efficiently drain all lines into the tanks, after operation.

• Also due regard to be considered where certain cargo is present

(ie if heated cargo is present in entire bottom line and non heated cargo is stowed adjacent, it may so happen that the section of bottom line passing through the non-heated cargo tank section may solidify in the line.)

In certain cases, it may be required to strip the lines to avoid such problems.

• Should there be any request to heat cargo beyond that of the valve safe maximum temperature then the company must be advised

Personnel arrangement at beginning of operations

In principle, for the start up of operations, all deck crew shall be in attendance and distributed as per chief officer’s instruction.



Onboard Announcement

Have the crew know the beginning of operations to call their attention to smoking, use of fire, designated passage and other matters.

Deck Scuppers

Prior to any cargo operation taking place all deck scuppers are to be plugged. Careful attention is to be given to keeping scuppers dry and clean. Mechanical type scupper closures are required to be used in USA ports.



Manifold Savealls

Manifold save-alls are to be provided under each manifold connection. These are to be kept clean and dry wherever possible, with any cargo spillages being drained at the earliest opportunity. Operational contamination is to be prevented by use of collection drums during connection/disconnection.



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