Testing weather-tight integrity of dry cargo vessels' hatchcovers


Ultrasonic testing is now widely used throughout the industry to test and prove the weather-tightness of hatchcovers

In 1989 IACS introduced its guidance to owners concerning the care and survey of hatchcovers as follows:

“Loss of weather-tight integrity continues to be a constant factor leading to cargo damage which could result in a threat to the safety of the crew, the ship and its cargoes, despite advances in modern shipbuilding technology, construction, navigation and means of preventing ingress of water into hold spaces.”

Little appears to have changed over the intervening years.

Regulation 3.12 of the International Load Line Convention 1966 which states:

“Weather-tight. Weather-tight means that in any sea conditions water will not penetrate into the ship”.

Regulation 16 of the convention concerns “hatches closed by weathertight covers.”

The “means for securing weather-tightness” is defined in regulation 16.4 of the convention which states:

“The means for securing and maintaining weather-tightness shall be to the satisfaction of the Administration. The arrangements shall ensure that the tightness can be maintained in any sea conditions, and for this purpose tests for tightness shall be required at the initial survey, and may be required at periodical surveys and at annual inspections or at more frequent intervals.”

Traditionally the routine tightness testing of hatchcovers and which owners of dry cargo vessels will be familiar, has been conducted by:

  • Chalk test
  • Light test
  • Hose test. And more recently
  • Ultrasonic test.


Staff Author