Best Practice of handling container
  • 19 May 2017

In previous article “Typical characteristics of an ISO shipping container”, it showed allowable load for steel container, so there are certain actions that should always be taken to prevent containers from being damaged or lost overboard. The following steps are considered best practice.

Points to remember:

• Check stack weights before stowage. It is important not to exceed allowable stack

weights; otherwise failure of the corner posts of the containers stowed at the bottom of the stack is possible. If the stow is too heavy, the lashings may have insufficient strength to hold the containers in place if bad weather is encountered

• Never deviate from the approved lashing arrangements shown in the Cargo Securing Manual, except to add additional lashings. Calculate forces using the approved loading computer

• Discuss the proposed loading with stevedores to ensure that the proposed loading does not compromise the ship’s lashing system, loading requirements or stability

• Consult the Cargo Securing Manual before applying lashings

• If stack weights are high and bad weather is expected, then fit additional lashings

• Try to avoid isolated stacks of containers in holds or on deck. Where possible, load containers so they are evenly distributed

• Avoid loading heavy containers above light containers and at the top of a stack, unless the stowage arrangement is shown in the Cargo Securing Manual and the stowage is found satisfactory when checked using the approved loading computer

• Avoid carrying open frame containers in cargo holds unless specifically permitted in the Cargo Securing Manual

• Keep your system of lashing simple, using the highest rated components

• To assist the shore lashing gang, give them precise instructions as to how containers should be secured

• Examine containers for physical defects – check the corner posts carefully. The corner posts have to resist high compression forces as a result of static weights from containers stowed on top and from dynamic forces that occur when the ship rolls, heaves and pitches. Containers with damaged corner posts placed in the bottom of a stow are likely to collapse. Reject damaged containers

• Check that all cell guides are clear of obstacles, are straight and are not buckled

• Check that turnbuckles are fully tightened. Loose lashings will be ineffective

• Avoid using left-hand and right-hand twistlocks on the same ship

• Regularly examine lashing components, including ship fittings, for wear and defects. Replace worn or damaged lashing components. Repair worn or damaged ship fittings. Check all equipment, not just equipment in regular use. Keep turnbuckles and twistlocks clean and well greased

• Consider additional lashings if bad weather is expected

• It is difficult to know when lashing components should be replaced. Few organizations are confident to issue ‘criteria for replacement’, which means that the ship’s owner or individual master will need to exercise judgement. If in doubt, replace the equipment. Give special attention to dovetail or sliding socket foundations

• Remember that during ship rolling, forces on container corner posts can be up to three times greater than the upright compression force. Weather route in an attempt to avoid the worst of the meteorological systems or areas where high seas in winter are common. Check the specified limits of metacentric height (GM) in the Cargo Securing Manual and make sure this is not exceeded. If navigating in bad weather, reduce speed, avoid beam seas and proceed with caution until the storm has passed

• Try to avoid loading ‘high cube’ containers on deck in the first or second tier. Lashing rods are more difficult to fit and special rods with extension pieces are often needed. Before loading identify where these containers are to be stowed. It may be necessary to reposition them

• Always consider personal safety when accessing lashing positions and working with lashing equipment. This applies equally in port and at sea

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