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Cargo Work


Deck Cargo



Cargo which are normally carried on deck include the following but are not limited to these and many exceptional cargoes may be carried and also have been carried in the past.

Dangerous cargo – IMDG cargo not permitted on deck

Large packages which due to any size restriction may have to be loaded on to the deck

The above includes engineering or construction equipment

Odd size package

Where the bulk volume far exceeds the weight of the cargo – knocked down bridges, port equipment – not easily liable to weather damage.

Occasionally livestock in limited numbers

Onions or other perishables – short voyages with the weather holding

Yachts – luxury boats.

Cast iron goods – man hole covers – pipes.

The list is endless and it all depends on the routes, the trading pattern and the weather.

The cargo whether on deck or under deck stow has to be stowed well and the cargo should be prevented from moving and gaining enough momentum to part lashings and damage the ship structure.

Deck cargo is liable to damage itself – fall overboard and thus be lost. However the misery does not stop here in the act of parting lashing and going overboard the deck cargo unleashes considerable damage to the ship structure as well as the crewmembers.

Small apparently insignificant items such as sounding pipes and air pipes are often torn out and this may endanger the ship from the resulting chances of flooding lower down compartments.

Crewmembers ordered to lash cargo where the lashings have parted have been seriously injured and some have lost lives combating the shifting cargo.

The point is to have a good solid stow – prevent the cargo from shifting and gaining momentum with the shift. Since this would part any strong lashing. The lashing undertaken should be for the worst sea condition that may be experienced.

Deck cargo loading on top of hatch covers should be carefully planned. All loading of under deck spaces should have been completed – lashing may continue with portable lights.

The hatch covers should be closed and battened down – all side wedges as well as cross wedges (centre wedges) should have been fitted. With the hatch cover sealed for sea, the space should then be given out for loading of deck cargo.

The permissible load density of the hatch covers should be checked and timbers laid to spread the weight of the cargo. The load density of the hatch covers are given for a new vessel and as the ship ages the load density would reduce due to fatigue of the metal as well as wear and tear. Thus the utmost need to spread the weight using timber.

Shoring and toming of the hatch cover from below deck is practically useless since the hatch cover moves/ slides somewhat with the motion of the ship.

The height of the cargo on the hatch covers as well as that on deck should not be so high that the view is obstructed from the Navigating Bridge.


Ice accumulation on hatch cover and on deck



The above photographs show the extent of the weight that Ice accumulation can pose for a ship. The weight on deck may eventually lead a ship to progress to a condition of ‘angle of loll’.

The weight of the ice may be in excess of a hundred tonnes, and thus the danger of a ship regarding stability.

As with the above any deck cargo for that matter would have a very high KG as such the GM (F) would be quite small. Especially in the case of GC vessels, which do not have a very large GM (F) the loading of deck cargo, is bound to lead to further loss of GM (F). If the ship loads the deck cargo with her own gear then the ship would during the loading operation have still further low GM (F) due to the KG of the load being at the top of the derrick/ crane for part of the loading sequence.

Containers on deck

Containers when they are loaded on deck are subject to the following consideration – barring stability, which would have been planned for.

The load density of the deck

Spreading the load of the container evenly

Chocking the container base to prevent shifting due to rolling or pitching

Lashing the container for the above as well to prevent the container from being bodily lifted.

Placing the containers in as close a group as possible

Safeguarding the sounding pipes and the air pipes within the periphery of the container space.

Keeping the fire hose boxes clear as well as the passage leading to them, the fire hydrants should similarly be kept clear.

No lashing should be taken which would damage or cause to be damaged the fire lines.

Checking that the leads for the lashing wires are adequate as well as that the chocking points are well supported

Keeping a passage for crew members to check the lashings during g voyage.

In general the close stow is difficult on GC vessels where the container is usually loaded between the hatch coaming and the bulwark. So the container should be loaded as close as possible to the hatch coaming, as well as close to the Mast House structure. If few containers are being loaded then the shelter offered by the Mast House structure should be kept in mind.

The load is spread by having the container loaded onto timbers at least 4” x 4”. The timbers should be extended to well beyond the shoe of the container in all directions to spread the load. Once this is done the chocking of the container is started. Again heavy timbers are used and the container is first secured to prevent any lateral and transverse shifting. While selecting chocking points all heavy framework should be selected. Bulwark stays are not strengthened enough to be used as chocking points. Hatch coamings may be used and as a last resort bulwark stays. After the chocking is completed the container is lashed. The lashing is further to prevent the longitudinal as well as the transverse shifting. For this the base shoes offer the best lashing points. To prevent the container being bodily shifted out the lashings are continued to the top shoes.

All lashing should be separate in the sense that a single lashing wire should not be passed over a few shoes and then lashed at the final point. Each lashing should have a turnbuckle or bottle screw incorporated and there should be at least 60% free thread in them after completion of lashing.

The bottom lashing and the top lashing should not be counted together fore the purpose of assessing the total number of lashings taken for the container.

The top lashings are for bodily rise and as such should be counted separately.

As a thumb rule, if the SWL of the lashing wire is 2T then to lash the top of a 20T container the number of lashings should be a minimum of 10 (all well positioned), similarly the bottom should have 10. The bottom lashings may be reduced depending upon the chocking of the container and the availability of the lashing point.

Note that a single strong point for lashing should not have more than 2 lashing wires – the preferred would be 1, however it is often impossible to find so many lashing points.

This shows a container ship lashing; note that the container is loaded onto the ship shoe slots which are strengthened, the rod lashings are only for the top of the containers.

Here the bottom shoes are not lashed since the ships sunken shoes and twist locks effectively chock and lash the bottom of the container.

Stowage and Lashing of Timber deck cargoes as laid down by IMO code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes


The purpose of the Code is to make recommendations on stowage, securing and other operational safety measures designed to ensure the safe transport of mainly timber deck cargoes.


This Code applies to all ships of 24 m or more in length engaged in the carriage of timber deck cargoes. Ships that are provided with and making use of their timber load line should also comply with the requirements of the applicable regulations of the Load Line Convention.

Timber means sawn wood or lumber, cants, logs, poles, pulpwood and all other type of timber in loose or packaged forms. The term does not include wood pulp or similar cargo.

Timber deck cargo means a cargo of timber carried on an uncovered part of a freeboard or superstructure deck. The term does not include wood pulp or similar cargo.

Timber load line means a special load line assigned to ships complying with certain conditions related to their construction set out in the International Convention on Load Lines and used when the cargo complies with the stowage and securing conditions of this Code.

Weather deck means the uppermost complete deck exposed to weather and sea.

The stability of the ship at all times, including during the process of loading and unloading timber deck cargo, should be positive and to a standard acceptable to the Administration. It should be calculated having regard to:

The increased weight of the timber deck cargo due to:

Absorption of water in dried or seasoned timber, and

Ice accretion, if applicable;

Variations in consumables;

The free surface effect of liquid in tanks; and

Weight of water trapped in broken spaces within the timber deck cargo and especially logs.

Safety precautions to be taken as far as stability of the ship is concerned

The master should:

Cease all loading operations if a list develops for which there is no satisfactory explanation and it would be imprudent to continue loading;

Before proceeding to sea, ensure that:

The ship is upright;

The ship has an adequate metacentric height; and

The ship meets the required stability criteria.

Ships carrying timber deck cargoes should operate, as far as possible, with a safe margin of stability and with a metacentric height which is consistent with safety requirements but such metacentric height should not be allowed to fall below the recommended minimum.

However, excessive initial stability should be avoided as it will result in rapid and violent motion in heavy seas which will impose large sliding and racking forces on the cargo causing high stresses on the lashings. Operational experience indicates that metacentric height should preferably not exceed 3% of the breadth in order to prevent excessive accelerations in rolling provided that the relevant stability criteria are satisfied.

This recommendation may not apply to all ships and the master should take into consideration the stability information obtained from the ship’s stability manual.



Before timber deck cargo is loaded on any area of the weather deck:

Hatch covers and other openings to spaces below that area should be securely closed and battened down;

Air pipes and ventilators should be efficiently protected and check valves or similar devices should be examined to ascertain their effectiveness against the entry of water;

Accumulations of ice and snow on such area should be removed; and

It is normally preferable to have all deck lashings, uprights, etc., in position before loading on that specific area. This will be necessary should a preloading examination of securing equipment be required in the loading port.

The timber deck cargo should be so stowed that:

Safe and satisfactory access to the crew’s quarters, pilot boarding access, machinery spaces and all other areas regularly used in the necessary working of the ship is provided at all times;

Where relevant, openings that give access to the areas can be properly closed and secured against the entry of water;

Safety equipment, devices for remote operation of valves and sounding pipes are left accessible; and

It is compact and will not interfere in any way with the navigation and necessary working of the ship.

During loading, the timber deck cargo should be kept free of any accumulations of ice and snow.

Upon completion of loading, and before sailing, a thorough inspection of the ship should be carried out. Soundings should also be taken to verify that no structural damage has occurred causing an ingress of water.

On ships provided with, and making use of, their timber load line, the timber deck cargo should be stowed so as to extend:

.1 over the entire available length of the well or wells between superstructures and as close as practicable to end bulkheads;

.2 at least to the after end of the aftermost hatchway in the case where there is no limiting superstructure at the aft end;

.3 athwartships as close as possible to the ship sides, after making due allowance for obstructions such as guard rails, bulwark stays, uprights, pilot boarding access, etc., provided any area of broken stowage thus created at the side of the ship does not exceed a mean of 4% of the breadth; and

.4 to at least the standard height of a superstructure other than a raised quarterdeck.

The basic principle for the safe carriage of any timber deck cargo is a solid stowage during all stages of the deck loading. This can only be achieved by constant supervision by shipboard personnel during the loading process.



Every lashing should pass over the timber deck cargo and be shackled to eye plates and adequate for the intended purpose and efficiently attached to the deck stringer plate or other strengthened points. They should be installed in such a manner as to be, as far as practicable, in contact with the timber deck cargo throughout its full height.

All lashings and components used for securing should:

.1 possess a breaking strength of not less than 133 kN;

.2 after initial stressing, show an elongation of not more than 5% at 80% of their breaking strength; and

.3 show no permanent deformation after having been subjected to a proof load of not less than 40% of their original breaking strength.

Every lashing should be provided with a tightening device or system so placed that it can safely and efficiently operate when required. The load to be produced by the tightening device or system should not be less than:

.1 27 kN in the horizontal part; and

.2 16 kN in the vertical part.

NOTE: 1 Newton equals 0.225 lbs. force or 0.1 kgf.

Upon completion and after the initial securing, the tightening device or system should be left with not less than half the threaded length of screw or of tightening capacity available for future use.

Every lashing should be provided with a device or an installation to permit the length of the lashing to be adjusted.

The spacing of the lashings should be such that the two lashings at each end of each length of continuous deck stow are positioned as close as practicable to the extreme end of the timber deck cargo.

If wire rope clips are used to make a joint in a wire lashing, the following conditions should be observed to avoid a significant reduction in strength:

.1 the number and size of rope clips utilized should be in proportion to the diameter of the wire rope and should not be less than four, each spaced at intervals of not less than 15 cm;

.2 the saddle portion of the clip should be applied to the live load segment and the U-bolt to the dead or shortened end segment;

.3 rope clips should be initially tightened so that they visibly penetrate into the wire rope and subsequently be retightened after the lashing has been stressed.

Greasing the threads of grips, clips, shackles and turnbuckles increases their holding capacity and prevents corrosion.


Uprights should be fitted when required by the nature, height or character of the timber deck cargo.

When uprights are fitted, they should:

.1 be made of steel or other suitable material of adequate strength, taking into account the breadth of the deck cargo;

.2 be spaced at intervals not exceeding 3 m;

.3 be fixed to the deck by angles, metal sockets or equally sufficient means; and

.4 if deemed necessary, be further secured by a metal bracket to a strengthened point, i.e., bulwark, hatch coaming.

Loose or packaged sawn timber

The timber deck cargo should be secured throughout its length by independent lashings.

The maximum spacing of the lashings should be determined by the maximum height of the timber deck cargo in the vicinity of the lashings:

.1 for a height of 4 m and below, the spacing should be 3 m;

.2 for heights of above 4 m, the spacing should be 1.5 m.

The packages stowed at the upper outboard edge of the stow should be secured by at least two lashings each.

When the outboard stow of the timber deck cargo is in lengths of less than 3.6 m, the spacing of the lashings should be reduced as necessary or other suitable provisions made to suit the length of timber.

Rounded angle pieces of suitable material and design should be used along the upper outboard edge of the stow to bear the stress and permit free reeving of the lashings.

Logs, poles, cants or similar cargo

The timber deck cargo should be secured throughout its length by independent lashings spaced not more than 3 m apart.

If the timber deck cargo is stowed over the hatches and higher, it should, in addition be further secured by:

.1 a system of athwarthship lashings (hog lashings) joining each port and starboard pair of uprights near the top of the stow and at other appropriate levels as appropriate for the height of the stow; and

.2 a lashing system to tighten the stow whereby a dual continuous wire rope (wiggle wire) is passed from side to side over the cargo and held continuously through a series of snatch blocks or other suitable device, held in place by foot wires.

The dual continuous wire rope should be led to a winch or other tensioning device to facilitate further tightening.

Testing, examination and certification

All lashings and components used for the securing of the timber deck cargo should be tested, marked and certified according to national regulations or an appropriate standard of an internationally recognized standards institute. Copies of the appropriate certificate should be kept on board.

No treatments, which could hide defects or reduce mechanical properties or strength, should be applied after testing.

A visual examination of lashings and components should be made at intervals not exceeding 12 months.

A visual examination of all securing points on the ship, including those on the uprights, if fitted, should be performed before loading the timber deck cargo. Any damage should be satisfactorily repaired.

Lashing plans

One or more lashing plans complying with the recommendations of this Code should be provided and maintained on board a ship carrying timber deck cargo.

Personnel Protection And Safety Devices

During the course of the voyage, if there is no convenient passage for the crew on or below the deck of the ship giving safe means of access from the accommodation to all parts used in the necessary working of the ship, guard lines or rails, not more than 330 mm apart vertically, should be provided on each side of the deck cargo to a height of at least 1 m above the cargo. In addition, a lifeline, preferably wire rope, set up taut with a tightening device should be provided as near as practicable to the centreline of the ship. The stanchion supports to all guard rails or lifelines should be spaced so as to prevent undue sagging. Where the cargo is uneven, a safe walking surface of not less than 600 mm in width should be fitted over the cargo and effectively secured beneath, or adjacent to, the lifeline.

Where uprights are not fitted, a walkway of substantial construction should be provided having an even walking surface and consisting of two fore and aft sets of guard lines or rails about 1 m apart, each having a minimum of three courses of guard lines or rails to a height of not less than 1 m above the walking surface. Such guard lines or rails should be supported by rigid stanchions spaced not more than 3 m apart and lines should be set up taut by tightening device.

As an alternative a lifeline, preferably wire rope may be erected above the timber deck cargo such that a crewmember equipped with a fall protection system can hook onto and work about the timber deck cargo. The lifeline should be:

.1 erected about 2 m above the timber deck cargo as near as practicable to the centreline of the ship;

.2 stretched sufficiently taut with a tightening device to support a fallen crewmember without collapse or failure.

Properly constructed ladders, steps or ramps fitted with guard lines or handrails should be provided from the top of the cargo to the deck, and in other cases where the cargo is stepped, in order to provide reasonable access.

Action To Be Taken During The Voyage

Tightening of lashings

It is of paramount importance that all lashings be carefully examined and tightened at the beginning of the voyage as the vibration and working of the ship will cause the cargo to settle and compact. They should be further examined at regular intervals during the voyage and tightened as necessary.

Entries of all examinations and adjustments to lashings should be made in the ship’s logbook.