Heavy-Lift and Project cargoes survey

Project cargoes require special attention during loading and transportation. Specialist knowledge and experience in the shipment of such cargoes is required to fully plan and engineer a safe project cargo shipment.

All operations need to be carefully managed with agreed responsibilities, risk assessments and toolbox talks.

Project cargoes typically require specialised vessels:

  • Tweendeckers: This old-style general or breakbulk cargo ship with multiple hatches, fixed tween decks and cargo handling via derricks or cranes has now largely disappeared
  • General cargo ships: These carry a wide variety of cargoes, including industrial items, bagged cargoes, project cargoes, steel products, forest products, palletised cargoes, smaller breakbulk cargoes and containers. They are unicellular and have holds with movable/stackable tween deck pontoons
  • Multipurpose and heavy-lift vessels: These vessels usually have wall-sided (rectangular) holds and movable tween decks, providing efficient stowage for a range of cargoes using their own securing fittings. They are ideally suited to the carriage of project cargoes. Heavy-lift vessels are commonly defined as having cranes capable of a 100 t single lift. The cranes are usually sited to enable tandem working
  • Bulk carriers: These vessels have a number of holds designed to carry cargoes such as coal, grain, iron ore, etc. This type of vessel may vary in size from only a few hundred tonnes to around 200,000 t. The smaller sizes, up to around 50,000 t, may be fitted with cranes for self-discharge

The successful transport of project cargoes requires good teamwork.

The responsibilities of each party should be defined and agreed (shipper / charterer / vessel owner / receiver / contractors).

A proper transport manual or method statement should be prepared and agreed by all parties.

A marine warranty surveyor (MWS) should be involved.

The vessel’s cargo securing manual (CSM) is a key document in the shipment of project cargoes. The CSM is a required document under SOLAS Chapters VI and VII and sets out the types of cargo for which the vessel is properly suited to carry, as well as how it should be loaded, stowed and secured. It will also document the vessel’s cargo securing equipment (inventory) and its maintenance and inspection.

The shippers may provide instructions for the safe and proper stowage and securing of the cargo. These instructions may refer to matters such as whether the cargo unit can be over stowed (i.e. whether other items may be stacked on top of it), the lashing and securing of the cargo (including the suitable lashing points on the cargo), the preferred stowage location (such as whether it can or cannot be stowed on deck) and the required packing to ensure the protection of any internal components and protection from the elements.

The cargo must be supplied with appropriate lifting and securing points, particularly for large and heavy items. If the cargo unit is not supplied with adequate lifting/securing points, attempts may be made to lift and secure the cargo in the best manner possible. However, if this is felt to present any risk of damage to the cargo (itself or surrounding), a note of protest should be issued at the time of loading. If the risk is felt to be significant (to the cargo unit, cargo as a whole or to the vessel), the cargo should be rejected.

The cargo lifting/securing points should be assessed to confirm that they are strong points and not merely attached to a protective cover (are they intrinsically part of the unit?), that they are structurally sound and that they are in plane to the principal forces to which the cargo is going to Heavy-lift and project cargoes tend to be more than averagely valuable and the consequence of their damage or loss proportionately more serious. Each cargo unit should be supplied with appropriate documentation that provides the necessary information to ensure safe transportation. The general standard for project cargo information should always be ‘comprehensive and accurate’.

The documentation must include the accurate weight of the cargo unit, the accurate location of its centre of gravity (particularly important for heavy lifts and possible off-centre units), its dimensions and details of the safe slinging, lifting and securing points, as well as the nature of the cargo.

The weight and centre of gravity should be marked on each side of the cargo unit such that it is immediately visible subjected (taking due account of the unit’s position and orientation in the stow).