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How to maintain Water tightness, Seaworthiness, Fire integrity and Security of Cargo ships ?

To maintain Water tightness, Seaworthiness, Fire integrity and Security of the vessel, it is important ships personnel ensure all openings to hull below water line and above waterline ( weathertight & watertight doors etc.) are adequately secured.

Weathertight door means a door fitted in a structure above the freeboard deck. It must be of adequate strength and able to maintain the watertight integrity of the structure. Weather deck is the deck which is completely exposed to the weather from above and from at least two sides, (SOLAS). Weathertight means that in any sea conditions water will not penetrate into the ship, (ICLL). A weathertight door/ fitting shall have a strength at least equal to the bulkhead or deck in which it is fitted.

containerships operational matters
Oil Tanker Safety Guide
Watertight door means a door which is fitted in a watertight bulkhead and able to open vertically or horizontally. It is operated by a hydraulic mechanism either locally or remotely. It must be substantially constructed and able to withstand the total hydraulic pressure of the adjoining compartment if it floods. It capable of preventing the passage of water through the structure in either direction with a proper margin of resistance under the pressure due to the maximum head of water which it might have to sustain, (ICLL).

In practical terms, the difference between weathertight and watertight is that a weatertight fitting shall withstand water pressure from the outside (be watertight from outside), whilst a watertight fitting shall withstand water pressure from both sides.

Watertight Integrity Plan A drawing showing the main and local watertight subdivision as well as internal openings and closing devices thereof. The drawing is essential for the local class surveyor to ensure that proper watertight integrity measures are taken during the building period.

Confirmation of closure of openings

The Master shall ensure the Chief Officer and Chief Engineer close all openings to maintain Water tightness, Seaworthiness, Fire integrity and Security of the vessel, at the following times, and enter the fact in the Log Book every time

a) Before Sailing,
b) When heavy weather is expected


Meeting rough seas
Secure all hull closures prior meeting rough seas

For Water tightness

Since requirement of closure to maintain Water tightness is concerned with both Seaworthiness and Cargo care, following attentions should be paid, especially at:
  1. Watertight doors in E/R and any provided on bulkheads between cargo holds
  2. Weather-tight doors (Iron doors on exposed decks)
  3. Side ports for pilots boarding, if applicable
  4. Access hatches or manholes leading to cargo holds or tanks
  5. Hatch Covers or Tank domes, if applicable
  6. Ventilators in which sea water can enter and particularly those on the forecastle
  7. Fan dampers in cargo holds, except while ventilating is required
  8. All sounding & ullaging pipes, and where applicable, peep holes.

a) If for any reason, any watertight or weather-tight openings are opened at sea, permission must be taken from the Master as the case may be, and same closed immediately after completion of work and reconfirmed to the Master.

b) The Chief Engineer shall ensure that the watertight doors in the machinery space, Shaft tunnel watertight door where fitted, are closed at all times, unless the space is manned.

c) The Chief Engineer shall ensure that all self-closing devices on sounding pipes and glass-gauges for oil and water tanks are functional and never tied open. (This will also prevent the oil in tank from fuelling an E/R fire)

For Fire integrity

Since Fire prevention construction may function normally, where in Fire doors are properly closed, there should be no hold-back arrangements fitted to any Fire doors and all Fire doors must be adjusted to close fully at all times.

For Shipboard Security

a) All restricted spaces, as mentioned in the Ship Security Plan, are to be always kept closed in port and in piracy-prone areas.

b) Such closures serve the dual purpose of safeguarding both the safety as well as the security of the vessel.

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