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When the tanker arrives at its loading port, the preparation of the cargo tanks and the crew for the cargo loading operation should be complete. An important part of cargo tank preparation is proper inerting of the tanks. All tanks must be inerted to 8% oxygen content or less. In some cases (ie. Sullome Voe), the tanks will be checked by shore personnel before the vessel will be accepted for loading.
Occasionally, a last-minute change of cargo orders will require additional calculation and preparation by the chief officer and crew, usually accompanied by some unfriendly thoughts about charterer's cargo scheduling personnel who leave cargo decisions to the last minute!
If there are no such changes, a chief officer who has planned and conducted the tank washing and preparation operations efficiently, should arrive at the loading port well rested. It is important that he is. The loading operation offers numerous opportunities for incidents to occur, and cargo officers must be rested and alert to problems that could lead to incidents. At a minimum, they must be alert enough to recognise a situation which is a departure from the norm and quick enough to exercise the cargo loading officer's golden rule:

'When in doubt, shut down!'

At any time during the loading operation, if the officer in charge is unsure of what is occurring, his best action is to call for a stop to the cargo loading. When he has evaluated the problem and corrected it, then cargo loading can resume under full control. Shutting down cargo flow when faced with an uncertain situation is a sign of good judgment. Such an action should not be criticised by either the chief officer or the master.

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