A.862(20) Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers



   Resolution A.862(20)




(Adopted on 27 November 1997)




RECALLING Article 15(j) of the Convention on the International Maritime Organization concerning the functions of the Assembly in relation to regulations and guidelines concerning maritime safety,


RECALLING FURTHER that, by resolutions A.713(17) and A.797(19), it adopted measures to improve the safety of ships carrying solid bulk cargoes,


RECALLING ALSO that, in adopting resolution A.797(19), it requested the Maritime Safety Committee to carry out, with high priority, its work on the safety of ships carrying solid bulk cargoes and to develop, as soon as possible, requirements and recommendations covering survivability standards, design and construction standards, management and training, operational standards, survey requirements and ship/shore interface aspects,


NOTING that, by resolution MSC.47(66), the Maritime Safety Committee, at its sixty-sixth session, adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, to include a revised regulation 7 of chapter VI dealing with loading and unloading of bulk cargo,


NOTING FURTHER the approval by the Maritime Safety Committee, at its sixty-sixth session, of MSC/Circ.743 on communications between maritime Administrations and port authorities, whereby Governments in whose territories solid bulk cargo loading and unloading terminals are situated are invited to introduce port by-laws complying with operative paragraph 5 of that circular,


BEING CONCERNED at the continued loss of ships carrying solid bulk cargoes, sometimes without a trace, and the heavy loss of life incurred,


BEARING IN MIND that a number of accidents have occurred as a result of improper loading and unloading of bulk carriers and that the development of safe loading and unloading practices can prevent such accidents occurring in the future,


RECOGNIZING the need to improve the safe loading and unloading of bulk carriers,


RECOGNIZING FURTHER that such improvement could be achieved by the establishment of a composite code of practice for the safe loading and unloading of bulk carriers,


BELIEVING that the application of such a code of safe practice would enhance maritime safety,


HAVING CONSIDERED the recommendation made by the Maritime Safety Committee at its sixty-sixth and sixty-eighth sessions,


1. ADOPTS the Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers, set out in the annex to the present resolution;


2. URGES Governments to implement this Code at the earliest possible opportunity and to inform IMO of any non-compliance;


3. FURTHER URGES Governments in whose territories solid bulk cargo loading and unloading terminals are situated, to introduce port by-laws to the effect that:


.1 terminal operators are required to comply with the relevant IMO codes and recommendations on ship/port co-operation;


.2 terminal operators are required to appoint a "terminal representative" as stipulated in section 1.6 of the annex to resolution A.797(19);


.3 the master is responsible at all times for the safe loading and unloading of the ship, the details of which should be confirmed with the terminal operator in the form of an agreed loading or unloading plan;


.4 in case of non-compliance with the agreed loading or unloading plans or any other situation which endangers the safety of the ship, the master has the right to stop the loading or unloading; and


.5 port authorities have the right to stop the loading or unloading of solid bulk cargoes when the safety of the ship carrying such cargoes is endangered.


4. REQUESTS the Maritime Safety Committee to keep this Code under review and to amend it, as necessary;


5. REVOKES MSC/Circ.690 and DSC/Circ.3.








1. This Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers has been developed by the International Maritime Organization to minimize losses of bulk carriers.


2. The purpose of the Code is to assist persons responsible for the safe loading or unloading of bulk carriers to carry out their functions and to promote the safety of bulk carriers.


3. The Code primarily covers the safety of ships loading and unloading solid bulk cargoes, excluding grain, and reflects current issues, best practices and legislative requirements. Broader safety and pollution issues such as those covered by the SOLAS, MARPOL and Load Line Conventions are not specifically included in the Code.


4. The recommendations in this Code provide guidance to shipowners, masters, shippers, operators of bulk carriers, charterers and terminal operators for the safe handling, loading, and unloading of solid bulk cargoes. The recommendations are subject to terminal and port requirements, or national regulations. Persons responsible for the loading or unloading of bulk carriers should also be aware of such regulations and equirements.


5. Masters and terminals loading and unloading solid bulk cargoes possessing chemical hazards should also refer to SOLAS chapters II-2 and VII and to MSC/Circ.675 (Recommendations on the Safe Transport of Dangerous Cargoes and Related Activities in Port Areas).


6. The requirements of individual terminals and port authorities should be published in terminal and port information books. The type of information usually given in these books is listed in appendix 1. The books should be given to the masters of ships where possible before or on arrival at a port or terminal.


7. It is recommended that a copy of this Code be made available to every ship, charterer and bulk loading or unloading terminal so that advice on operational procedures is readily available and respective responsibilities are identified.






For the purpose of the Code the following definitions apply:


1.1 Air draught means the vertical distance from the surface of the water to the highest point of mast or aerial.


1.2 Combination carriers (OBO or 0/0) means a ship whose design is similar to a conventional bulk carrier but is equipped with pipelines, pumps and inert gas plant so as to enable the carriage of oil cargoes in designated spaces.


1.3 Conveyor system means the entire system for delivering cargo from the shore stockpile or receiving point to the ship.


1.4 Hot work means the use of open fires and flames, power tools or hot rivets, grinding, soldering, burning, cutting, welding or any other repair work involving heat or creating sparks which may lead to a hazard because of the presence or proximity of flammable atmosphere.


1.5 List indication lights means lights, visible from the deck, which light up to show that a ship is listing.


1.6 Master means the master of the ship or a ship's officer designated by the master.


1.7 Pour means the quantity of cargo poured through one hatch opening as one step in the loading plan, i.e. from the time the spout is positioned over a hatch opening until it is moved to another hatch opening.


1.8 Terminal representative means a person appointed by the terminal or other facility where the ship is loading or unloading, who has responsibility for operations conducted by that terminal or facility with regard to the particular ship.


1.9 Trimming (loading cargo) is the partial or total levelling of the cargo within the holds, by means of loading spouts or chutes, portable machinery, equipment or manual labour.


1.10 Trimming (unloading cargo) is the shovelling or sweeping up of smaller quantities of the cargo in the holds by mechanical means (such as bulldozers) or other means to place them in a convenient position for discharge.


1.11 Trimming (ship) is the adding, removal or shifting of weight in a ship to achieve the required forward and aft draughts.






   2.1 General


2.1.1 All ships nominated for loading should hold the appropriate valid statutory certification including, if required, the document of compliance* for ships carrying solid dangerous goods in bulk. It is recommended that the period of validity of the ship's certificates be sufficient to remain valid during loading, voyage and unloading times, plus a reserve to allow for delays in berthing, inclement weather or both.

* Applicable to ships constructed on or after 1 September 1984.


2.1.2 The shipowner, manager or operator, when offering a ship for a particular cargo or service, should ensure that the ship:


.1 is maintained in a sound, seaworthy condition;

.2 has on board a competent crew;

.3 has on board at least one officer proficient in the languages used at both the loading and unloading ports, or has an officer available who is proficient in the English language; and

.4 is free of defects that may prejudice the ship's safe navigation, loading or unloading.


2.1.3 It is essential that a ship selected to transport a solid bulk cargo be suitable for its intended purpose taking into account the terminals at which it will load or unload.


2.1.4 The charterer and shipper when accepting a ship for a particular cargo or service should ensure that the ship:


.1 is suitable for access to the planned loading or unloading facilities; and

.2 does not have cargo handling equipment which would inhibit the safety of the loading and unloading operations.


   2.2 Ships


2.2.1 Ships nominated for bulk loading should be suitable for the intended cargo. Suitable ships should be:


.1 weathertight, and efficient in all respects for the normal perils of the sea and the intended voyage;


.2 provided with an approved stability and loading booklet written in a language understood by the ship's officers concerned and using standard expressions and abbreviations. If the language is neither English, nor French, nor Spanish, a translation into one of these languages should be included;


.3 provided with hatch openings of sufficient size to enable the cargo to be loaded, stowed and unloaded satisfactorily; and


.4 provided with the hatch identification numbers used in the loading manual and loading or unloading plan. The location, size and colour of these numbers should be chosen so that they are clearly visible to the operator of the loading or unloading equipment.


2.2.2 It is recommended that all ships which are required to carry out stress calculations should have on board an approved loading instrument for the rapid calculation of such stresses.


2.2.3 All propulsion and auxiliary machinery should be in good functional order. Deck equipment related to mooring and berthing operations, including anchors, cables, mooring lines, hawsers and winches, should be operable and in good order and condition.


2.2.4 All hatches, hatch operating systems and safety devices should be in good functional order, and used only for their intended purpose.


2.2.5 List indication lights, if fitted, should be tested prior to loading or unloading and proved operational.


2.2.6 Ship's own cargo handling equipment should be properly certificated and maintained, and used only under the general supervision of suitably qualified ship's personnel.


   2.3 Terminals


2.3.1 Terminal operators should ensure that they only accept ships that can safely berth alongside their installation, taking into consideration issues such as:


.1 water depth at the berth;

.2 maximum size of the ship;

.3 mooring arrangements;

.4 fendering;

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