In collaboration with the cargo experts at CWA International, Swedish Club produced refrigerated cargo advice to assist shipowners and operators in the daily operation of their vessels.
ccording to Swedish club, refrigerated cargoes are one of the most common types of cargoes involved in cargo claims. Each type of cargo varies in its requirements for carriage temperature, humidity, stowage arrangements and ventilation.
Guidelines for the carriage of refrigerated cargoes
It is often the case that containers are loaded and sealed without the crew being able to verify the type or condition of the contents. It is of utmost importance therefore that crew are fully aware of the carriage instructions prior to loading so that the container temperature and ventilation settings can be verified before the container is accepted on board.
The crew should check that the container set temperature complies with the shippers’ specified carriage instructions.
The external integrity of the reefer container should also be checked for damage with any defects noted and photographed.The shipper should be notified of any physical damage to the container.
If the delivery or return air temperatures are incorrect it is important to confirm with the shippers that any adjustment to the correct set temperature will not lead to cargo damage during the voyage.
Unlike bulk cargoes, where damage may be immediately apparent when discharge commences, damage to cargo in containers whether dry or refrigerated will only likely be found at the destination when the container is emptied.
Proper container monitoring and prompt action during a voyage will provide helpful information as to whether the carrier should appoint a surveyor to be present for opening of the container at the destination. The condition of cargo at destuffing will provide useful information to determine the most likely cause of damage to the cargo.
Continuous supply of power to the reefer containers is also of utmost importance during the voyage. The vessel’s crew should regularly monitor this and ensure that all incidents regarding the vessel’s diesel generators and reefer circuit breakers and their associated alarm systems are meticulously recorded.
It is also important to check that the defrost cycles are taking place at regular intervals in order to ensure that there is no build-up of ice on the evaporator coils which would cause malfunction of the refrigeration system.
Proper container monitoring and record keeping during the voyage are important. The records provide vital evidence in case of claim.
Risks associated with carriage
Some typical problems related to refrigerated carriage include:
- Hot loading: Reefer containers are designed to maintain cargo temperature rather than lower the cargo temperature. Despite this, some cargoes are often loaded at ambient temperature and subject to later claims for temperature abuse.
- Temperature abuse: This covers a variety of possible issues; for example, power supply problems may cause fluctuations in delivery temperature or an incorrect temperature set point, exposing cargo to the wrong delivery temperature. Temperature abuse affects cargoes in different ways depending on the cargo. For fresh or frozen products these might include premature ripening, freezer burn, frosting and textural changes.
- Airflow: Poor airflow/ventilation through the cargo can lead to temperature hotspots developing. This can be due to poor stowage or packaging of cargo preventing airflow through the cargo or over stowage of cargo preventing return air to the refrigeration unit. Poor airflow might also be caused by condensation freezing and blocking the T-bar floor.
The most important point for carriers is to ensure that the carriage instructions and set temperature are checked and adhered to at the time the reefer container is loaded. In the event of a claim, one of the most effective defences is the maintenance of clear and accurate records and documentation of each stage of the voyage from loading through to discharge.
…Swedish club concluded.