Vessel preparation

All systems and equipment should be checked to make sure they are operational. During the voyage to the load port, ballast tanks adjacent to cargo holds should be pressured tested prior to loading, if holds are free of cargo and safety permitting in every respect.

Caution should be taken when washing down holds with brackish river water, which may include saltwater chlorides. A freshwater flush and drying should be performed before loading, and tarpaulins can be laid on the tank top and lower sides of cargo holds, used in addition to dunnage, to provide a physical barrier between the vessels steel structure and the steel cargo.

Photographs should also be taken of hatch covers, rubber gaskets and sealing fittings for any repairs made, hose or ultrasonic tightness tests, cargo hold bilge suction and non-return valve tests, cargo hold cleaning/washing, ventilation units and ballast tank pressure tests.

Cargo condition prior to loading

If the opportunity arises, and it is safe to do so, the master or a competent deck officer with experience of the carriage of steel cargoes, should inspect the cargo ashore and note down and photograph any pieces of cargo that are damaged or have rust or other blemishes.

An adequate number of photographs should be taken to present the pre-loading condition of the cargo, showing its general condition and specific examples of any damage, and the shore storage environment, as well as tests on the cargo for the presence of salt chlorides using silver nitrate solution.

Cargo loading

All vessel personnel involved should be familiar with their role in helping ensure that the cargo is properly stowed and secured onboard.

The master should make sure meetings are carried out with the stevedore foreman before loading to agree on procedures to be followed and again at the end of loading to discuss any damage or cargo related problems encountered, and that any necessary protests are made and signed by relevant parties. The actions of stevedores should be closely monitored during the loading.

Photographs, and short video recordings should be made, if possible, to show the loading methods, equipment used, dunnage and lashings, etc.

Record keeping, documentation and communications

Thorough records should be maintained and stored safely onboard. Photographs and video recordings should be downloaded to a secure computer onboard.

Mate’s receipts should properly state the details of the apparent condition of the cargo upon loading, which should also be claused upon relevant bills of lading.