Posted on 11th May 2019
Every year, the North of England P&I club has three to four claims of between $500,000 and $1,000,000 for water-damaged cargoes resulting from hatch cover defects. Tony Baker, head of the club’s risk management department said: ‘The cost of preventing these losses can usually be measured in a few thousand dollars or less. Often all that is necessary is the replacement of some defective rubber seals, some minor repairs to steelwork or sometimes just cleaning down a coaming.’
Hatch covers are the responsibility of the ship’s owners and operators, so you need to pay close attention to them to make sure that your cargo is protected. Regular checking and maintenance is much cheaper and more effective than major repairs or incidents caused by neglect.
Water hose testing and chalk testing are the two most common methods for checking hatch covers. While water hose testing can detect a leak, it can’t accurately pinpoint exactly where the problem’s coming from – and it won’t work in sub-zero conditions either. There’s also the added complication of making sure any cargo contained in the hold is adequately protected from the water used in the test.
Chalk testing doesn’t have some of these limitations but it isn’t considered to be a leak detection test as it only gives an indication of poor compression and possible leaks. It’s not effective in identifying weathertight integrity so it might not be acceptable to many external surveyors.
This is the most accurate way to ensure your hatches are functioning correctly. A transmitter in the cargo hold emits ultrasound waves which are then picked up by a receiver outside the closed hatch. Unlike water hose and chalk tests, ultrasonic testing indicates when you have the required compression and gives you the precise location of any leakages. In addition to this, the equipment is easy to store and use, only needs one operator and doesn’t rely on the cargo hold being emptied.
However, just like any piece of technical equipment, there are some extra factors that need to be considered to ensure that your ultrasonic testing device is operating effectively.
Ship operators and P&I clubs need to be sure that the equipment used for testing is behaving consistently every time, so readings taken by devices that are not calibrated are open to being rendered invalid. This could jeopardise potential insurance claims as, in a court of law, any results from equipment not shown to be in calibration could be disputed and disallowed.
Hatchtites are made to a very exacting standard so that their performance will not deteriorate quickly over time. Each device will give exactly the same correct and consistent readings, regardless of the specific device that’s being used. This is particularly important when comparing results that have been logged over a long period.
If properly cared for, a Hatchtite will also last for five years before they require re-calibration – the longest time period for an ultrasonic hatch testing device in the industry. After five years, it should be returned to make sure that:
– All components are clean and working in good order
– Any components that are approaching the end of their lives can be replaced or repaired
– The transmitter and receiver are tested to make sure the decibel readings are accurate
– Any relevant updates are implemented.
Calibrating your Hatchtite will ensure that you’ll always be able to test your hatches efficiently and reduce the risk of losing your cargo.
Download our whitepaper for more information on the common issues that can occur with hatch covers, as well as advice and guidance for regular and effective monitoring.
Alternatively, contact our team who will be happy to help.