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Bureau Veritas issues guidelines on using containers in bulk carriers

Bureau Veritas issues guidelines on using containers in bulk carriers
Containers safely loaded onboard a dry bulk carrier vessel

Bureau Veritas (BV) has developed a formalised approach to support the safe carriage of containers in bulk carriers, a trend which has grown in recent months due to container shortages.

The guidance from BV, which specialises in testing, inspection and certification, provides operators with pathways based on analysis and a thorough understanding of safety, regulatory and operational requirements.

Paillette Palaiologou, BV Marine & Offshore’s vice president for the Hellenic, Black Sea and Adriatic Zone, said: “We have significant experience and knowledge of bulk carrier design, classification, and operations across BV and particularly here in Greece, where we have numerous clients in the dry cargo market.

“Additionally, our class rules for container lashing and our own associated lashing software are highly sophisticated. The combination of bulker and boxship capability and understanding has enabled our teams to rapidly provide a framework to meet market requirements as demand emerges for bulkers to be able to carry boxes.”

In particular, the guidance outlines two main pathways for stowing containers in holds, either as a ‘block’ of lashed cargo without retrofitting of special container securing fittings, or as more conventional stacks of containers, in which case such equipment may need to be fitted permanently or temporarily.

The IMO Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (CSS Code) for ships that are equipped with a Cargo Securing Manual, provides a key reference point in its Annex 1 “Safe stowage and securing of containers on deck of ships which are not specially designed and fitted for the purpose of carrying containers.”

Calculation methods for forces acting on cargo units and the efficiency of securing arrangements are also noted.

However, the fact that bulk carriers are “not specially designed and fitted for the purpose of carrying containers”, combined with the potential need to maximize the intake of containers, may raise concerns related to the integrity of the vessel’s structure and the cargo itself, as well as the safety of the crew and the stevedores.

Palaiologou added: “In many ways, we are going back to the future, as general cargo and multi-purpose ships have always been able to carry containers. In the context of today’s market demands, the capacity to move containers in bulk carriers is a key advantage.

“With our guidance, we wish to ensure that modern analysis tools and techniques can be applied to support safety as well as modern operational efficiency.”