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Preparations for the transfer of oil cargo from a shore terminal to a tanker include a significant number of detailed operations and inspections. To ensure that all necessary preparations have been completed, a written procedure and checklist must be in place and fully utilised by both shore and ship staff. When all preparations are complete, a 'declaration of inspection' can be completed by both parties to document the preparation and indicate the agreement to begin the transfer of cargo.

3.8.1 Pre-loading inspection checklist
Each tanker should have a cargo transfer preparations checklist made up for the procedures and checks which must be completed prior to cargo transfer operations, including the preparations which are peculiar to that vessel only. This list will be more exhaustive and detailed than the listing contained in most mandated pre-transfer checklists of declarations. More detail is required on the ship's list because of the number of detail items which must be checked to address the general requirements listed on a statutory list.
Many precautions will be common to all tankers preparing to load cargo.

The following are some basic checklist items which should be performed on all tankers:

1 Adequate mooring arrangements
Should include condition of the wires/ropes and winches; the number of wires/ropes used must satisfy the conditions of the berth and the anticipated weather and tidal current conditions. Additional or supplemental mooring lines should be ready on deck in case conditions require more mooring lines to be put ashore.
A good mooring arrangement requires adequate breast and spring lines which must be maintained tight at all times to hold the vessel securely against the berth fendering. Breast lines should be oriented as close to 90 as possible to the ship's longitudinal centreline.
Automatic tension winches should not be used once the vessel is fully moored in position.
A procedure for making an emergency departure from the berth should be in place and agreed with the shore terminal.

2 Emergency towing
Towing-off wires should be made up on bitts at the offshore quarter and bow. The wires should be hung to the water's edge, stopped off with light line and laid out on the deck so that a tug can pull them to full extension without entanglement.

3 Safe access
Safe access to the shore may he provided by the ship's gangway or accommodation ladder, or by a shore gangway or gangway-platform combination.
The means of access must be properly lighted at night, fitted with a safety net, non-skid treads and proper handrails. It must be kept clean and free of oil or grease.
Careful tending of the means of access is essential. Changes in the level of the vessel relative to the dock can quickly damage or destroy any gangway or ladder which becomes jammed or caught.
If access to the ship is not controlled by a shore gate watchman, then a continuous gangway watch must be maintained by the ship's crew at the head of the gangway. All persons arriving at the vessel must be challenged regarding their business, asked for identification and required to sign a visitors log. Persons with no reason to be aboard must be refused access to the ship. The ship's offshore side should be periodically checked for unauthorised craft.
A copy of the ship's fire-fighting plan must be kept in a red, watertight container near the top of the means of access.

4 Vessel repairs
Unless approval is otherwise granted, the ship must maintain its ability to move under its own power. If critical engine components must be disabled for repair while alongside, prior approval of the harbour master or terminal manager is required. Any engine trials following repairs must have the written permission of the Port Authority and all conditions of the permission must be observed, including:

  • Written advice to vessels berthed ahead and astern that trials are to take place.

  • Additional mooring lines run ashore and all lines properly tensioned.

  • Propeller area verified clear of small craft and debris.

  • Master on the bridge.

  • Normal mooring crews fore and aft.

  • A means of immediately stopping the engine is available.

  • 5 Supervision
    Continuous, vigilant, pro-active supervision of the ship's loading operation is required. The moorings, cargo deck and cargo control equipment must be constantly attended with the objective of preventing any hazardous situation from developing. Personnel must be sufficiently rested, informed, trained and experienced to deal with any situations which arise. Effective communications between ship and shore are essential.

    6 Communications
    Communications between ship and shore must be reliable, immediately available at all times and operational to conduct cargo transfer. Interruption or loss of communications is cause for stopping cargo transfer until they are restored. VHF or UHF portable radiotelephones are the most effective means of communication. The calling station must always clearly identify itself and the station it is calling. 'Ship to dock' does not correctly identify a call by the tanker Neverspill to Berth 17.

    7 Transfer procedures
    These must be reviewed in detail. A copy of the ship's loading plan should be provided to the shore terminal. Details of shore lines, pumps and tanks to be used, loading rates for each cargo grade, loading temperatures, loading sequences (for multiple-grade cargoes), static electricity precautions, shore standby time required before shutting down, topping-off rates and sampling procedures should be discussed and agreed.
    The ship should have a list of its important cargo operations particulars prepared and a copy provided to the terminal.

    8 Emergency shutdown procedure
    This must be discussed and agreed. The emergency stop may be an electrical switch at the end of a cable, which is placed on board so that the deck watch can stop the loading simply by pushing the button.
    If portable radios are to be used as the primary means of emergency shutdown, then a second radio set must be provided as a backup.

    9 Fire-fighting equipment
    Fire fighting equipment must be ready for immediate use. Fire/foam monitors should be pre-positioned in the direction where they are most likely to be needed: the cargo manifold and pumproom areas. Portable fire extinguishers should be positioned near the manifold. Hoses should be led out and fitted to the hydrants at selected locations on the main deck. If possible, the fire pump should be run continuously while loading (discharging through the hawse pipe wash-down system) so that fire water is immediately available when any hydrant or monitor valve is opened.
    Verify that the fixed foam system is fully operational, including:

  • Foam tank is filled to capacity.

  • Isolating valves are checked for free operation.

  • One portable foam applicator (with eductor and two cans of foam), is connected to a hose upwind and nine meters distant from the manifold.

  • Verify the location and availability of both the shore and ship international ship/shore connection flanges.
  • 10 Cargo hoses/arms
    These must be properly connected and supported. Verify that cargo manifolds are drained before removing the blanks to connect the shore hoses/arms. The operating envelope of loading arms must be discussed and any draft/freeboard restrictions resulting agreed. The chief officer should inspect hoses/arms for condition and reject any which appear to be damaged or otherwise unserviceable.
    Hoses should be stencilled with an installation date or a latest test date. If the hoses are not stencilled, or the test date is more than one year old, they should be challenged by the ship's officers. The shore terminal representative should be asked to produce the appropriate hose manufacture or test certificates before the hoses are accepted for use.

    11 Scuppers
    On the cargo deck and poop deck, scuppers must be effectively plugged and the tightness of the plugs verified before loading begins. In addition, an arrangement must be put in place to:

  • Remove any accumulation of rain water from the deck without permitting oil to flow overboard.

  • Transfer any oil spillage from the natural accumulation point(s) on the deck to a safe holding area, without exposing crew members to direct oil contact.
  • The best way to prepare for removal of water or oil accumulations is to set up air operated pumps, such as diaphragm pumps, with suction hoses at the accumulation points, discharge hoses led to a slop tank and compressed air hoses rigged such that the pump can be
    started at a compressed air supply connection distant from the suction hose. (See section 3.31.1).
    Troughs under all ship and dock manifolds should be empty and prepared to receive any spillage (covers removed), before loading begins. Rig up a suction line and pump to empty the manifold trough.
    Any accumulation in the dock trough limits the capacity of that catchment to receive spillage/drainage for the ship following an incident. The dock trough should be checked by the ship's officer in charge before loading. If the trough is not empty, ask that it be pumped out before loading begins.

    12 Unused connections blanked
    Unused connections blanked on all manifolds. Each blank must be fitted with a gasket and fully fastened with proper size stud bolts made tight in every hole. This requirement includes all bunker and cargo connections.

    13 Sea chest and overboard valves
    Sea chest and overboard valves must be closed and lashed when not in use to discharge ballast. All overboard and sea valves not used in the loading port should be closed and sealed with a numbered seal, the number being recorded on the declaration of inspection and in the logbook. When ballast discharge is complete and the last sea valves closed, they also should be sealed and the seal number recorded along with the time of sealing.

    14 Cargo, bunker and ballast tank openings
    These must be closed gastight before loading commences. Only the vent lines to be used for venting the displaced tank atmospheres should be open. The suitable condition of flame screens or arrestors in the vent lines should be confirmed. On inerted ships, only closed gauging and sampling points should be used. On non-inerted ships, ullaging points may be opened for short periods to take necessary measurements or samples and closed immediately after. While ullage ports are open, clean, well-fitting flame screens must be in place whenever the tank is not being actively gauged or sampled.

    15 Cargo tank venting
    Cargo tank venting arrangements must be described to the shore terminal representatives and their agreement received for the intended procedure. If closed-loading procedures are required, these must be observed. If vapour return equipment is in use at the terminal, the ship may be required to have vapour return lines to load at the facility.

    16 Approved hand lights
    Approved hand lights bearing an embossed hazardous atmosphere certification issued by a competent authority are the only type of hand light approved for use on tankers.

    17 Portable UHF/VHF transceivers
    These must be intrinsically safe and operate on the internationally agreed frequency bands only. The intrinsically safe certification of such units is void if they are damaged or modified.

    18 Ship's radio transmitters and radars
    Transmitters must be turned off for the duration of the loading operation except correctly installed VHF radios operating at 1 watt or less of radiated power. The ship's main antennas must be grounded. The radars should not be operated until thirty minutes after all loading has been completed. If radios must be tested for periodic (regulatory), inspection in the loading port, then a dummy antenna must be used or testing scheduled for times when cargo is not being loaded. A work permit should be prepared for radio tests in port.
    Repairs to the radar scanner, closed circuit television system, satellite antenna, or other electronic devices on any deck should only be preformed with external power circuits locked out until all cargo operations are completed.

    19 Electrical equipment
    On deck and in the pumproom electrical equipment should be sighted with particular attention to the condition of explosion-proof enclosures, conduit joints and filling, evidence of stresses, fractures, heating, or chaffage. Any defects should be repaired before loading begins, or else the circuit isolated at the source while loading. Portable or temporary cables must be routed outside of the ship's hazardous zones, including the telephone cable. The only exception should be the emergency shut down button, which must be rated as intrinsically safe or explosion proof and may be located near the loading manifold.

    20 Weather/exterior accommodation doors
    Weather/exterior accommodation doors must be closed and dogged. One door on the windward side of the accommodation and above the main deck, should be dedicated for access to the accommodation and all other doors indicated to remain closed throughout the loading. Doors must not be locked!
    All accommodation windows/ports must be closed while loading.

    21 Air conditioning
    Air conditioning intakes which could entrain concentrated cargo vapours and portable/window-type air conditioning units must be secured while loading. Window type units must be disconnected from power and adjusted to the recirculate setting. Central air conditioning intake should be fitted with a central gas detection and shut-down system if they are located where hydrocarbon vapours may accumulate and they must remain in use during loading.

    22 Designated smoking areas
    These must be identified by the master, communicated to the crew and shore personnel and rigidly enforced. Designated smoking areas should be internal compartments with no direct access to an external port or door. Smoking is prohibited in all other areas of the ship and berth.

    23 Galley fires
    These should not be the open type. Galleys with open type fires must be arranged or equipped so that flammable gas cannot enter or accumulate in the galley. Verify that all galley fire extinguishers are fully charged and ready for immediate use.

    24 Hot work permits
    Hot work permits must be withdrawn or cancelled while loading. No hot work repairs should be conducted in any part of the ship until thirty minutes after loading is completed and then only with the permission of the terminal management. No other naked lights/flames may be used on board except in designated smoking areas.

    25 An emergency escape plan
    An emergency escape plan for the crew should be in place and have been rehearsed. An aft lifeboat swung out and ready for immediate use should be included in the plan. If the vessel has an accommodation protection deluge system, the valve for the system should be opened while loading, if the fire main is not pressurised.

    26 Sufficient crew
    Sufficient crew must be on board the ship at all times to deal effectively with any situation which may arise during the loading operation. It is the master's responsibility to see that the manning requirements of the certifying authority are met.

    27 Loading connection insulation
    This must must be verified before hoses/arms are connected. If shore cannot demonstrate that the hose strings contain an insulating flange, then a non-conductive hose section must be used in each string. If there is any question about the effectiveness of insulating flanges, the vessel officer in charge must request a test of the insulating flange resistance. The measured resistance should not be less than 25,000 ohms.

    28 Pumproom ventilation
    This must be established before loading begins and maintained throughout the loading. The pumproom should be inspected hourly for leakage even though pumproom cargo lines are not being used for loading.

    29 Warning signals
    Unless alternative signals are required by local authorities, a vessel handling petroleum cargo at a berth must display;
    By day, the Bravo flag of the international code of signals. By night, an all-around red light, visible for at least two miles, positioned so as to show over as large an arc of the horizon as possible and located so that it cannot be mistaken for any other navigation light.

    30 Manifold drip troughs
    Manifold troughs must be uncovered and prepared for pumping out in case of significant leakage from the hose/arm connection.

    31 Additional measures
    The following measures are examples of precautions which can be added to the checklist of a company or vessel:

  • Are the manifold pressure gauges or the gauge fittings fully secured?

  • Are the loading drop valves open and deck line block valves closed?

  • Are the emergency stop procedures established and understood?

  • Is the ship's spill control plan understood by the watch officer and his personnel?

  • Is the procedure for controlling the flow on completion of loading fully understood?

  • Are cargo tank changeover procedures understood?

  • Are the valve indicators accurate?

  • Are the tank level gauges accurate?

  • Are the engine room bilge discharge valves closed and sealed?

  • Are engine room personnel aware of the local air pollution regulations?

  • Is a material safety data sheet posted for all grades of cargo and fuel to be loaded?
  • 3.8.2 Declaration of inspection
    When all items on the vessel's pre-loading inspection checklist have been completed, the officer in charge completes the declaration of inspection' (DOI), or other corresponding document. Both the inspection and the declaration must be diligently completed. If an incident occurs and the following investigation reveals that necessary inspection items were not completed, the responsible officer's license is as good as confetti!
    The declaration of inspection is completed in the form prescribed by the owners, or by the regulatory authority having cognisance over the loading terminal.
    In some jurisdictions the declaration of inspection must be signed again by each person who assumes responsibility for the cargo loading operation. If an incident occurs, the authorities consider the person whose signature is last on the list to be the person responsible for the transfer. Each cargo officer should therefore ensure that his relief signs the DOI when he turns over the cargo watch duties.

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