5.39 CARGO SAMPLES
The discharge port arrival samples and the samples drawn during the
discharge should all be correctly labelled and stored securely in a
safe, fire protected compartment.
The samples must be organised in a way that permits easy identification
of the containers for each voyage. Galvanised wire milk cases are good
containers for consolidating voyage samples. They can be labelled with
felt marker on wide masking tape for easy identification. At the end
of one year, the sample bottles or cans may be emptied into the slop
tank (on the ballast voyage), or sent ashore for proper disposal.
The owner must advise the vessel immediately upon receiving notice of
a cargo claim. The master should then ensure that all samples associated
with that voyage are removed from the regular sample storage area to
an equally safe site which can be secured under lock. A detailed inventory
of the samples should be prepared, with photo copies of logbook entries
indicating when and how the samples were taken.
Owners will provide instructions for delivery of the samples. An independent
petroleum inspection service should be engaged to arrange for proper
packaging and shipment of the containers. A receipt must be obtained
for all samples shipped.
A comprehensive set of samples is essential to defending the ship against
cargo contamination claims. If the ship is able to document a thorough
sampling programme and to present samples which show that the cargo
was on-test when loaded, on arrival and during discharge, then it will
be difficult for a claimant to demonstrate that the contamination was
caused by the ship.
5.39.1 Cargo contamination
Cargo contamination can occur through bulkhead leaks, pipeline leaks,
leaking isolation valves, or through mismanagement of the discharging
Most cargo contaminations are a result of human error, usually the opening
of a valve, or leaving a valve open, that should have remained closed.
Good planning, instruction and labelling of the valves or valve controls
will reduce the chance of this type of contamination occurring, but
cannot eliminate it entirely.
The question is: What is to be done when a contamination is discovered?
The most important action to take on discovering a contamination event
is to stop the cargo transfer. Close all valves in the discharge systems
for the cargo grades involved. Note the valves which are closed and
the time. Immediately notify the chief officer, who will advise the
master. The master will advise the owners an the local P&I correspondent.
Sample the cargo remaining in the tanks and request that it be tested
to determine if the cargo still on board is on specification. The remaining
cargo in the tanks should not be discharged until instructions have
been received from owners/charterers and a revised discharge programme
has been prepared and agreed with the terminal representative.
Never try to conceal or ignore a cargo handling error which may result
in a cargo contamination. Concealment only increases the cost to the
shipper, owner and eventually to the careers of all of the officers
involved. Report the incident immediately, so that effective cost containment
measures can be started.