In Articles

Stowage, storing and lashing problems experienced in some Chinese ports

Cargo loss and damage incidents form a significant part of the investigation work that Solis Marine is asked to carry out, often from a dispute resolution perspective, but also in relation to salvage and wreck situations.

Our master mariners and marine engineers have experience of a wide range of cargoes including bulk, refrigerated, gas, container and general cargo.

John, Ros and Ken, our three members of the Lloyd’s Panel of Special Casualty Representatives (SCRs), have also worked in casualty situations dealing with cargoes ranging from containers and hydrocarbons to a wide variety of bulk and project cargoes where discharge, transport, storage and sale have been issues dealt with.

We specifically handle a large number of cases involving damage to renewables project, general and steel cargoes loaded in China and our team there, managed by Captain Roland Orange in Shanghai, routinely attend vessels to investigate the cause of this damage. Other common issues dealt with are the liquefaction of bulk cargoes, container loss or damage and gas cargo specification disputes.

Steel coils with inappropriate wooden chocks

Cargo Stowage

Clear guidance on cargo stowage and securing is available from many sources, including the mandatory onboard Cargo Securing Manual (CSM) which specifies the requirements for stowage and securing most types of cargo carried onboard and particularly those that require special handling where additional support and information has to be sought.

The strength of the cargo securing equipment to withstand any adverse weather and rough sea conditions, the methods followed to secure the cargo, and maintenance instructions should be available in this manual. Although loading may be carried out by charterers, the vessel also has to be seaworthy when the voyage commences.

Calculating the strength of the available equipment and accessories to counter adverse forces, created by bad weather and rough seas, and how to fix them accordingly is critical.

The vessel’s Safety Management System (SMS) also has to contain advice on how the vessel should be navigated in heavy seas where excessive rolling and pitching might be experienced which has to be mitigated for as much as possible. That risk can usually be simply mitigated by adjusting the speed of the vessel and/or the heading.

The master is responsible for the seaworthiness of his vessel and has to ensure that the crew are aware of the correct methods of securing the cargo. These procedures are always subject to close scrutiny in the event of an incident including loss or damage.

A badly stowed cargo of pipes affected by minimum movement whilst the vessel is anchored in a river. Only restowing or changing the securing can resolve that issue when cargo has already been loaded on top.

Common Issues and Problems

Many problems arise when ship officers and crew lack experience with general cargo and break bulk cargo. For example, traditional bulk carriers with strengthened tank tops are being used for general cargo, however officers and crew have often only worked with homogenous bulk cargoes.

Deck cargoes can present further problems if the crew are not familiar with the cargo hold cover strengths, cargo lashing or securing methods to be used and particularly with the use of inappropriate and/or incorrectly laid dunnage.

These scenarios can lead to costly delays for owners if no viable alternative securing can be found. And if loading disputes cannot be settled in a timely fashion, some ports are likely to ask ships to depart to an anchorage as soon as a Master stops cargo operations.

Problems are further compounded if charterers or shippers do not understand the concept of due diligence by not allowing sufficient budget or care for securing and lashing, particularly if additional measures are required.

Cutting corners never works. However, with so many logistics companies vying for business, the cheapest offer often wins the work.


Webbing strap with the hook cut off and knotted around adjacent cargo, not to a strong point on the vessel

Port Captains and Lashing Gangs

When questioned, it has often been discovered that the port captain has only sailed as a junior officer, also that they have no authority over the lashing gang, or more often, they mistakenly defer to the lashing gangs for advice on securing. They are frequently found to have little knowledge of cargo securing calculations and do not take the opportunity, when directed, to refer to a vessel’s Cargo Securing Manual to understand what are the minimum requirements required.

It is often not possible to get access to certification of welders used for the fabrication of securing brackets and cargo stoppers. At the most basic level, lashing gangs often have no knowledge of the requirements regarding the correct fitting of bulldog clips or the number, location and torque settings for securing the lashing wire ends. Webbing straps are often used inappropriately and secured to unsuitable parts of the vessel, including ladders and stanchions.


Bulldog grips on wire lashing improperly secured

Loss and Prevention

We have seen instances in which one shipper has followed all of the guidance in stowing and lashing their cargo correctly, but the cargo for a different consignee was not properly stowed or lashed, resulting in the latter breaking loose and both cargoes arriving in a damaged condition when reaching the port of discharge.

Ratchet straps with hooks cut off then knotted and passed over sharp edges


Webbing strap secured to a ladder

The effect of vessel movement on improperly stowed deck cargo

To find out more, contact one of our cargo loss experts click here

Start typing and press Enter to search