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Advantages of carrying cargo through Containerships & insurance requirement

Although there are many earlier examples of "containers", the maritime container which is so familiar today began entering the deep sea trades in the early 1960s. The first purpose-built cellular containerships were introduced on the North Atlantic in 1966 and by the early 1970s, containerships were operating on most of the world's major trade routes. These routes were soon fully containerised with breakbulk services withdrawn and roll-on/roll-off container vessels (in some trades) providing capacity for cargo that could not be containerised.

Trades to and from developing countries, without the infrastructure to handle cellular ships, began to containerise in the 1970s utilising, initially, conventional vessels, followed by the introduction of multi- purpose roll-on/roll-off container vessels. Subsequently, geared cellular container vessels were introduced and allowed a more efficient operation even if the ports served had a limited infrastructure.

The claimed advantages of a container operation over breakbulk include reduced ship time in port and consequent better berth utilisation; improved trans-shipment and intermodal operations; reduced time between producer and consumer; less physical handling of cargo leading to less damage; improved security leading to less pilferage; protection against weather and other external conditions; quality control to improve shelf life of perishables; improved personnel safety; and reduced tallying costs.

The relative importance of each advantage varies according to particular circumstances. For the shipowner, increased efficiency rendered conventional cargo ships uneconomic except in specialist areas of employment. It was not simply a matter of higher operating costs; also to be considered was the fact that higher value cargoes, paying better freight rates, gravitated towards containers, tending to leave breakbulk vessels with the low value, lower rated cargoes.

For the shipper, the advantages were even more significant. The attraction of the customer to a system which conveyed cargo from door-to-door with minimal risk of damage or loss proved to be the real driving force behind containerisation. Consequently, containers are now utilised in worldwide trades, even in countries where the infrastructure is limited or where conventional stevedoring charges are still relatively modest.

The disappearance of the breakbulk vessel from the major trade routes helps explain why some cargoes ill-suited to transport within a closed box have nevertheless been containerised. It is important to remember that the principles of stowage apply to cargo inside a container as much as they do to breakbulk cargo. It is still necessary to segregate incompatible cargoes to avoid taint, contamination and dangerous reaction; it is still necessary to properly secure cargo to avoid damage by shifting or chafe; it is still necessary to ventilate when appropriate to avoid damage from sweat or build up of fumes, etc.; it is still necessary to monitor certain cargoes during a voyage to ensure that the correct carriage conditions are being maintained. Thus, many of the remarks on general stowage apply equally to containers.

The filling of a container with cargo may be referred to as stuffing, packing or vanning while the emptying of the container may be referred to as stripping, unpacking or de-vanning thus drawing a distinction between the actual "loading" of the container on board the ship.

Definition of containers

In principle they are boxes or containers within a box. These boxes or containers have dimensions of 2.60 x 2.45 m with lengths of 6.10, 9.15 and 12.20 m. Containers are made in steel, aluminium or GRP. They are also of refrigerated design, thus advantageous for long voyages between Australia or New Zealand and the UK.

a) The cargo can be loaded and discharged much faster than for General Cargo ships. Hence, less time is spent in Port.

b) Consequently, less Port dues are paid by the shipowner.

c) More voyages per year, hence more income for the shipowner.

d) Less pilferage, so lower insurance costs for the shipowner.

e) When compared to General Cargo ships, less number of Crew are required on these ships.

f) They are usually larger and faster than General Cargo ships.

The track record shows that a container can generally be loaded or discharged every 3 min. Some Container ships come in on the morning tide, discharge, reload and sail out on the next tide.

Hatch coverless containership
Hatch coverless containership

Shipbuilders like Maersk line now making bigger container vessel 18000 teus that can be as long as 400 meters, breadth 59 meter and height 73 meter. Inspite of their huge cargo carrying capacity bigger vessels got some disadvantages too, firstly they cannot visit smaller ports like chittagong or Mongla due draft restrictions secondly they burn huge amount of fuel. M.V. Hannover Bridge 8212 teus capacity container vessel daily average heavy fuel oil consumption was 220 mt at full sea spees of 24 nautical mile/hour.

Despite their earlier losses with bigger vessels still they are manufacturing them . Now a days cargo storage yards/ports are charging too much for keeping , storing containers either laden or empty, so they are thinking why not make big vessels and keep empty containers standby and drift at sea...wherever shortage of cargo container just off land them and save many of hiring yard space at higher cost.
Container ship loaded condition

Fig :Container ship loaded condition

Container Liner Trade

Due to the nature of container transportation (goods arriving for loading in sealed containers etc.), it is common practice that: In case of any deviation from the above, the Line Servants (Agents, Stevedores, Planners etc.) must be immediately notified in writing advising them to remedy as necessary or in case this is not feasible, shipment must be rejected.

Containers and cargo insurance

In principle, cargo insurance only covers claims relating to material damage to goods. Exceptionally, the proprietor's interest in the container as packaging may also be insured if a special agreement is reached or through inclusion thereof in the damage liability invoice value. Interest in a leased container is not in principle insured.
The purpose of packaging is to allow transport of goods and to protect them from possible damage. If the above aim has been fulfilled, it is most common for only the packaging to be damaged, and not the goods.
If the packaging does not have any separate, intrinsic value, no independent loss may occur. Packing paper, which is discarded after the arrival of the cargo and suffers wear during transport, cannot therefore form the basis of a claim for damages. If the goods have reached their destination, the only relevant question is whether the goods have suffered loss and not whether the packaging is damaged. This also applies to cases.

Consideration can only be given to any such claim if the goods have depreciated in value solely as a result of the damage to the packaging. This is the case for example with preserved foods and certain branded goods. Another example is cement, which retains its normal commercial value only in its original bags. If cement which is in itself sound is sold in unmarked bags because the original bags have been damaged, it automatically suffers depreciation. In such cases, compensation may be paid despite the damage being limited to the bags.

Otherwise, compensation may only be paid for packaging damage if a separate value is assigned to the packaging either in the policy or in the invoice (e.g. barrels or containers). This only applies if the packaging is expected to have a longer service life than the duration of one transport operation.

A different matter entirely is the cost of repairing or replacing packaging, if this has to be performed en route. It may be possible to claim compensation for these costs, though not in the form of packaging losses but as loss minimization costs, which are expended to return the goods to a transportable state and to prevent losses on the remaining insured journey. For such a claim to be allowable, the packaging must have been satisfactory at the start of the journey. If the journey is complete or the remainder of the journey is uninsured, the insurer will not meet such costs, because, the insurance contract having expired, no more insured losses can be incurred.

Because of the uncertainties involved in using cargo insurance to insure a container as packaging, it is better to provide separate hull insurance by way of special conditions for container insurance. As far as the proprietor's interest is concerned, double insurance cover may then be provided by the cargo insurance and the container & hull insurance.

Multi-purpose ships may carry containers and general cargo. These ships can be cellular container ships with a stiffened tanktop with the ability to ‘stopper’ (block) cell guides.
Sometimes owners wish to carry bulk or general cargoes in container ships. A ship which is classed as a container ship will not have been assessed for this type of loading, nor will the inner bottom, hatch covers, loading manual, Cargo Securing Manual and ISM certification have been approved for the carriage of these cargoes. Before general cargo can safely be carried on a container ship certification as a general cargo ship is necessary. The club has published an edition of Standard Cargo on the subject of container ships and general cargo.

Summarized below are some basic container transport procedures. These procedures are only indicative, not exhaustive in nature and one must always be guided by practices of good seamanship.

Safe cargo stowage and planning
When considering acceptability of a container cargo stowage plan, some basic check items, procedures / guidelines concerning cargo stowage shall be taken into account . Read more...

Safe Cargo operation

On Arrival Port, Prior Commencing Cargo Operation 1) The composition of cargo watch personnel shall be decided and duties well understood. 2) All personnel involved in the cargo watch shall be briefed regarding the expected operations and provided with a Cargo Discharge Plan . Read more...

Cargo cranes operation, maintenance & safety matters

Guidelines and procedures concerning containership hull strength & stability
When considering acceptability of a container cargo stowage plan, the following procedures/guidelines concerning hull strength & stability shall be taken into account:
a) Draft, Trim and Heel Draft restrictions at berth, approaches, passage and next port shall be taken into consideration and vessels maximum draft must be maintained within the applicable restriction. Read more...

Procedures for dangerous cargo handling and documentation
Handling dangerous cargo requires special care due to the inherent hazardous nature of the cargo and applicable carriage regulations.

Procedures for reefer cargo handling
Reefer containers require special care after they are loaded on board ship. These containers need to be supplied with power, monitored closely for proper function and repaired as required in case of malfunction.

Handling breakbulk,Out of gauge and open top containers
Break bulk cargo is usually stowed on flat racks and platforms. It is important to confirm that the break bulk cargo itself is properly secured onto the Flat rack or Platform prior loading on board.

Containership operation: 2 in 1 (Two in One) Loading
The term 2 in 1 operation is normally used when two 20feet units are loaded in one 40feet bay underdeck. When such loading operation is being conducted, it must be ensured that the terminal staff is aware of the vessels lashing system.

Containership operation: On Deck Loading of 20feet Containers
20feet containers loaded on deck must be spaced apart in order to leave room for lashing each container on the fore and aft ends.

Containership operation: Opening closing hatch covers
Hatch cover operations are frequently carried out on board container ships but due care is necessary to prevent damage by incorrect operation.

Containership operation: Cargo lashing
Regular inspection and maintenance of ships cargo securing devices must be carried out. These would include routine visual examination of components being utilized, lubrication of securing devices, repair of damaged securing devices and separating out and rejecting damaged/unusable securing devices.

Containership Cargo securing
When containers are carried on deck, the ship is required to be approved for that purpose and the containers themselves are secured with twistlocks and lashings. These usually consist of steel rods and turnbuckles.

Containership Cargo Securing Devices (Lashing Gear Box Containers)
Vessel shall account for all lashing gear box containers including bins prior departure from every port.

Containership Cargo hold ventilation
Cargo holds of container ships are fitted with two basic types of ventilation systems, namely natural and mechanical. Mechanical ventilation could be of either the supply or the exhaust type.

Safety navigation for container ships
While planning the passage for intended voyage the safety of navigation should be accommodated in, where it is both reasonable and possible to do so,

Containership Cargo care at sea
Condition of Cargo (Container) Securing / Lashing shall be checked at least once daily and tightened as required.

Containership operation: Safety of personnel
On board containerships there are several potential safety hazards in the cargo working area and these will have to be identified, made safe and monitored to ensure continued safety.

Containership operation: wet damage in cargo hold
Water entered into vessel cargo holds may cause wet damage to the cargo inside containers especially stowed on the bottom, unless the bilge water is drained in a proper and swift manner.

Containership operation: hull damage stevedores
In case a third party including stevedores is responsible for an accident caused by work, such as Cargo handling, Bunkering, or Loading ships stores or the like, the Master shall handle the accident with appropriate steps to claim for damages.

Measures to protect the vessel side against stevedores injury
All working areas and accesses must be checked to be clear of any slippery matter and obstructions, be structurally sound and well lit, before stevedores come on board.

Measures to protect reefer cargo deterioration
Check and monitor each reefer container as per voyage instruction, which requires some basic check items.

Containership Navigation : Ships motion in a seaway
Ships are affected by movement in six degrees of freedom; rolling, pitching, heaving, swaying, surging and yawing. Of these, rolling, pitching and heaving generate the highest forces during heavy weather.

Containership Cargo Securing Arrangement
Details of the securing system and its constraints are set out in the vessels approved Cargo/Container Securing Manual.

Containership Cargo Operation : Common reasons for stowfall
Container stows often fail due to:

Container stacks being too heavy and too high overall, exposing the lower containers to excessive transverse racking and compressive forces due to the tipping effect.

Containership operation : Ships motion in a seaway :parametric roll
The term parametric roll is used to describe the phenomenon of large unstable roll motion suddenly occurring in head or stern seas.

Other info pages !

Ships Charterparties Related terms & guideline
Stevedores injury How to prevent injury onboard
Environmental issues How to prevent marine pollution
Cargo & Ballast Handling Safety Guideline
Reefer cargo handling Troubleshoot and countermeasures
DG cargo handling Procedures & Guidelines
Safety in engine room Standard procedures
Questions from user and feedback Read our knowledgebase
Home page is merely an informational site about various aspects of ships operation,maintenance procedure, prevention of pollution and many safety guideline. The procedures explained here are only indicative, not exhaustive in nature and one must always be guided by practices of good seamanship.

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