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Case study
"On the 26th of May, the vessel began loading crude oil through two hoses at No.l offshore buoy. At 08.30 hours on 27th May, the topping off operation began and at 09.40 hours the chief officer asked the terminal loading master, who was on board, to reduce the loading rate from 37,000 to 20,000 barrels per hour. It appears that the chief
officer and the loading master misunderstood each other, with the result that the loading continued at the higher rate. At 10.25 hours, increased pressure due to the closing of some of the tank valves, caused one of the loading hoses to burst. The owners of the installation allege that some 5,000 barrels of crude oil was spilled. A clean-up operation took 5 days. The terminal claimed against the vessel for cost of clean-up, loss of oil, damage to the hose and loss of the use of the loading terminal during repairs. The vessel was detained until a 'letter of guarantee' for $1,750,000 was provided for its release. The claim was subsequently reduced to $334,474 and was expected to be settled for about $275,000."

Case analysis
This case, from P&I Club files, is an amazing demonstration of how the simplest communication between two trained and experienced professional marine personnel can go awry. It is also clear demonstration of the value of providing the terminal with a bar diagram or other loading schedule, along with the loading plan, so that the terminal can foresee the ship's operations and anticipate their needs.
The case also indicates that the officers or deck personnel were oblivious to the sounds and feel of the ship's piping and valves as they topped off at what was an unacceptably high loading rate. Before the ship began closing tank valves for topping off, the officer in charge should have positively confirmed that the loading rate had been reduced so that topping off could be initiated safely.
The case illustrates the leading precept of ship-terminal communications: many problems have occurred because of too little
communication, but few incidents have occurred because of too much!

The rule should be that:
Every move the ship is about to make is communicated to the shore terminal.
Every required terminal reaction must be positively confirmed.

The ship's officers should never assume that the terminal has complied with their latest request until the terminal confirms that they have done so. If the terminal does not respond, the request must be repeated, along with a request for confirmation. If no response is received to a second cargo operations request, then the ship should use the secondary means of communication and prepare to conduct an emergency shutdown.

3.11.1 Ship to terminal communications
The ship should communicate at least the following to the terminal:
- When all fast to the pier.
- When customs formalities are complete.
- When loading hoses have been connected.
- When ballast discharge is completed.
- When tank inspection is complete.
- Acknowledgement of all communications received from the terminal.
- When the ship is ready to receive cargo.
- When cargo has started entering the tanks.
- When loading rate may be increased to full rate.
- When the watch is changed in the CCR and on deck.
- Any problems with mooring lines, cargo hoses or the shore gangway.
- Standby to reduce rate for topping off.
- Order to reduce the cargo loading rate for topping off.
- Advice that topping off tanks has begun.
- Advice when topping off is complete and rate can be increased.
- Hourly advice of the loading pressure and temperature at the ship's manifold and rate at which cargo is being received.
- Advice to standby on receiving a fire detection, gas detection, or other significant alarm; followed by advice to shut down if a fire is found, or to continue loading if the alarm is false.
- Advice of setting or changing the sailing time of the vessel.
- Advice and time that pilots and tugs have been ordered.
- Standby to finish loading a grade (or cargo).
- Instruction to stop pumping a grade (or cargo).
- Advice that the ship is ready for gauging and sampling.
- Advice that ship is ready to drain and disconnect hoses.
- Time that hoses are disconnected.
- Time that all crew members are on board.
- Time that vessel will begin testing radars and main engine for departure.
- Time that gauging/sampling is complete.
- Time that cargo documentation is complete.
The objective of good ship-terminal communications is a steady flow of exchange which focuses the attention of the operators on the status of the ship and the next event likely to occur.

3.11.2 Terminal-to-ship communications
The shore terminal should provide to the ship the following:
- Advice of when they will be ready to connect hoses.
- Advice when they are ready to load cargo (grade).
- Advice that cargo (grade) has been started on hose/manifold No. ...
- Acknowledgement of all communications received from the ship.
- Advice regarding the condition of the moorings and/or gangway.
- Hourly readings of the loading rate, total quantity delivered to ship and ship's draft readings forward and aft (if they can be conveniently observed).
- Advice if cargo loading is stopped for any reason.
- Advice of a fire in the terminal.
- Advice of any communications or parcels received for delivery to the ship.
- Weather advice received.
- Notice of returning crew members who may appear to be intoxicated.
This amount of communication from the shore will be provided if the chief officer makes clear during the pre-loading conference that is both expected and essential, and if during the loading operation the ship provides a corresponding amount of information as indicated in section 3.11.1.
When there are language difficulties between the ship and terminal, the cargo watch officer on the ship must be provided with a phrase sheet of the terms and orders to be used in the shore's
language and corresponding translations in his own language. This arrangement is a poor substitute for adequate language fluency between ship and shore and it should only be used as a last resort. A crew member should be stationed at the ship's manifold to watch the shore operator. He should confirm the operator's actions in response to requests by the ship's cargo officer.

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