Cargo Contaminated by Salt Water
Report No. 200040
I was called to investigate a cargo of fertiliser contaminated by salt water. The vessel, a typical box/barge type capable of inland waterway transportation, was under the British flag and only a few years old. There had been some leakage between the hatch sections and it was noted that many of the cross joint "wedge stubs" were badly worn. The majority of the damage however, was noted in the fore end and it was observed that there was water leaking into the hold at the junction of the main deck and the forward hold / forepeak bulkhead. On inspecting the deck area on the starboard side, a heavily rusted 15cm weld appeared to have never been properly "run in" and had cracked, allowing the ingress of water. A similar weld was noted on the port side but this one did not appear to be leaking. A local repairer was employed direct by the owner to re-weld the affected area and to build up the "wedge stubs". No hose test was carried out and, as far as is known, neither the P & I Club nor the Classification Society were informed before the vessel continued trading.
On another vessel, this time registered in Eastern Europe, a similar contamination of fertiliser cargo had occurred. The hatches were of 2 sections, folding fore and aft, and appeared to be in good condition. However, when the hatches were closed, it became obvious that the fore and aft leading panels were not coming together properly and thus allowing the ingress of water into the hold via the drain channels. The vessel was only two years old, and leaving out the question of why this design / manufacturing fault was not noted at the building stage, how come it had not been picked up and rectified before? It cannot have been the first time that the vessel had experienced heavy weather.