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Hatch Cover Testing

Martek Marine delivers world-class technology underpinned by our three core pillars of ship safety, performance, and crew welfare. We want to make sure your ships perform how they should and that you deliver what you promise. We provide ultrasound hatch testing that ensures you keep cargo in the same state on delivery as when it was loaded.

Trusted Hatch Cover Testing

All successful businesses depend on the trust of their customers and this is no different within the shipping industry. Your customers want to know that when their cargo is delivered it will be in good condition. But this is an industry-wide problem. Over 40% of P&I claims result from goods being damaged by water ingress through hatch leakage.

By making sure you take the state of your hatches seriously and deliver cargo as promised, you can ensure you are the cargo industry leader trusted by your customers.

But you need the right technology to do this.

Finding where your weak spots are in your hatches is no easy feat, but Martek Marine has made it simple. With our groundbreaking ultrasound technology, hatch testing couldn’t be any easier or more cost-effective, surpassing traditional hatch testing methods that are unreliable and time-consuming.

Trust us to keep your hatches watertight so your customers can trust you too.

Hatch Cover Testing FAQs

Below are our customers’ most common questions about hatch covers. If you need to know more, please contact our friendly team.

Why is hatch cover testing important?

Over 40% of P and I claims are down to damage from leaky hatches. This not only damages your reputation when it happens but takes huge chunks out of your profits costing the industry around $46.9m USD per year.

Profits dwindle through claims and the inevitable repairs you’d need to do your hatches to stop the leaks.

Neither of these sources of losses is unavoidable. Investing in Martek Marine’s ultrasound hatch testing technology can stop these problems from occurring. Picking up the smallest of leaks (which, if left will just get bigger and bigger, costing you more down the line) will save you money and stress.

What’s the legal requirement for hatch covering tests?

While it’s helpful to you as a business to ensure your hatch covers are in perfect shape, it’s also a requirement by law.

The consequences of poor hatch upkeep are not just economical but also for safety. Poor hatch maintenance can lead to cargo liquefaction that, in a worst-case scenario, can cause a ship to roll without recovering.

With these dangers in mind, it’s a legal requirement by SOLAS to maintain your ship properly, including your ship’s hatches. Your hatch covers are also subject to yearly inspections.

With all the headaches of not maintaining your hatch covers appropriately, there’s no question that it’s a priority. Let Martek Marine make it simple and cost-effective to keep all your hatches watertight with our ultrasound hatch testing.

You’ll not find a more efficient and cost-effective device anywhere else on the market. We know we’re the best at what we do, so let the best help make you be the best.

What are the methods of testing hatch cover?

Various methods can be used to test a vessel’s hatch covers such as light test, chalk test, air test, putty tests, moulding tests, hose tests and ultrasonic tests (UST). UST tests are now the most reliable and widely accepted method, but hose tests are still used extensively – partly because shipowners claim that UST tests find too many leaks but that’s another story!
The below document the most common ways of testing;

1. Chalk testing

This is where chalk is placed around the perimeter and then the hatch sealed. When it’s reopened, where there is still an impression of chalk these areas are likely not watertight and a place of leakage.

2. Hose testing

Water is sprayed from a hose from 1-1.5 meters away from the cover joints to make a visual observation if there is any leakage. This requires that the hold be empty which is not always practical.

The main issue with the hose test is that the results are only applicable to the static vessel as the flex needed by the hatch and coaming structures while the ship is at sea isn’t allowed for. The contact between the rubber packing and the compression bars when the ship is in motion and subjected to the forces of wind and waves isn’t tested.

Your issue here is that you can’t gauge the compression being achieved by the steel to rubber contact, so you’re clueless on the watertight integrity when the ship is moving – until you’re looking at a compromised hold full of wet paper or steel!

3. Ultrasonic testing

An ultrasonic sensor from an ultrasonic device inside a sealed cargo hull tests the compression joint and any low-pressure area to uncover any potential areas for leakage.

How do you secure hatch covers?

Hatch covers are secured with either manual cleating or hydraulically operated cleats or wedges. Manual cleating is more common on older vessels.

How do you conduct cargo hold test?

The best way to conduct a cargo hold test is to use an ultrasonic hatch cover tester.

You place an electronic signal generator within the cargo hold and you can measure any areas that are not secure with a receiving sensor.

Why Use Ultrasonic Testing For Hatches?

The benefits of UST testing are extensive which explains why it is by far the most popular hatch testing choice. The ease of testing is one of the core benefits – when you’re fighting tight loading and dispatch turnarounds in dock, time is critical, so having to remember to fit in a hose test when the hold is empty is a challenge you could do without – and then you have to make a significant amount of time to do the hose test.

Not only are you saving crucial time, but there are also other factors which make UST a much easier solution;

  • UST tests can be done with full cargo – the cargo levels don’t impact the test
  • The test can be conducted and trusted in sub-zero temperatures
  • The test takes minutes to conduct so the time saved vs other methods is significant and tangible
  • Leakages can be accurately pinpointed immediately
  • Results from successful tests are reliable and accurate – immediate feedback from the equipment will alert you to a failed test so you simply do it again within minutes
  • No pollution or impact on other parties so you won’t have limitations such as port authority restrictions placed on you – the test can be conducted anywhere
  • Only one person needed to conduct the test
  • This test can be conducted in all states of transit – meaning no time is lost from other operations to do the UST tests – ie could be conducted at sea during a crossing already in operation
  • The test results are widely accepted (and often requested) by insurers and authorities
  • Ultrasonic testing enables the location of leaks to be pinpointed quickly and accurately. After the test, it is imperative to conduct a visual inspection to determine the reason for leakage and thereby determine the appropriate remedial action.

How Do Ultrasonic Hatch Cover Tests Work?

UST tests use ultrasonic equipment to check for leakages in hatch covers and hatch coamings. By placing devices in the cargo hold to emit sounds with a frequency above 20 kHz, UST operators can activate them and measure how much of the sound leaks outside the hatch covers. These results can be used as records for their ultrasonic hatch test reports.

Hose and chalk tests can show if there is contact between the compression bar and rubber packing, but ultrasonic testing indicates whether you actually have the required levels of compression to create the seals needed to keep cargo dry when the vessel is in motion.

Because of its unique dome configuration, our Hatchtite device goes even further than standard UST devices as the effectiveness of an ultrasonic tester is determined by the amount of sound energy reaching the hatch cover and most transmitters emit in an upward direction. By using 13 transmitters, the Hatchtite device gives complete cover in even the largest of holds making it 1,000 times more powerful than any other devices currently available.


How To – Tightness Test Survey Form

Our tests will need recording and a Tightness Test Survey Form is completed with every hatch cover survey. The form shows Section 1 completed after the pre-survey checks have been carried out.

The Hatchtite™ can be used if the cargo hold is either empty or full as the flexible microphone allows for pin-point accuracy when identifying areas of potential water ingress.

Mark these areas with chalk, so that when the hatches are opened the cause of the hole can be identified.

The Tightness Test Survey Form is completed during the inspection and photographs are taken to support any conclusions drawn.

If no ultrasonic sound has leaked through the cargo hatch, the display will register a zero and no noise will be detected by the headphones. This indicates a perfect seal.

If ultrasound has escaped at this point on the hatch cover a reading of 3 will have been recorded in OHV% mode. When OHV% mode is used, any reading above 10 indicates an area of potential water ingress showing the hatch cover is not watertight.

How To Conduct An Open Hatch Value Test?

Before starting, you’ll need to obtain a reading for the level of ultrasound reaching the underside of the cargo hatches. This can be done using an access hatch, or by opening the hatches on deck. This value is known as the Open Hatch Value or OHV. The microphone should be lowered down the access hatch so that it can “see” the transmitter.

Once the OHV has been obtained, the hatch cover survey can be conducted with the receiver unit in either decibel mode or OHV% mode. A value of 10% of the OHV depicts an area of potential water ingress. In decibel mode, an OHV of 74db would mean any reading over 7.4db (10% of the OHV) indicates an area for potential water ingress. In OHV% mode, the knob on the receiver is turned so that 100 is obtained when taking the OHV reading. A value of 10 or above recorded during the survey indicates an area for potential water ingress.

The exterior of the ship is then inspected using the receiver unit. The microphone is used to identify any ultrasonic sound and registers this as a value on the display and as an audible noise through the headphones.

How To Position The Transmitters?

If the hold is virtually square the transmitter can be placed in the centre. If the hold is rectangular then the transmitter needs to be placed roughly a quarter of the way along the length of the hold to survey the first half of the hatch cover. Once complete, you can reposition the transmitter three-quarters of the way along the hold and survey the latter half of the hatch cover.

Latest Hatch Cover Articles

The Martek Marine blog contains the latest industry news, product information, helpful articles, and guides for hatch covers.

  • Liquefaction: what you need to know

    Liquefaction: what you need to know

  • Why your hatch testing needs to be accurate

    Why your hatch testing needs to be accurate

  • Class Guidelines: Are your hatch covers covered?

    Class Guidelines: Are your hatch covers covered?