Lessons Learnt: Wet damage to cargo of maize

Vessel Type

: Dry cargo vessel

Incident description


The subject 5 hold vessel was fixed to load a full cargo of yellow Maize in bulk. The previous cargo was bulk fertiliser. On completion of loading, all holds were fumigated and the holds were then closed, secured and sealed.

During the initial stages of the voyage, the vessel encountered heavy weather, with spray and seas shipped on deck and all hatch covers over a period of 8 days.

Upon arrival at the discharge port, the hold and manhole seals were inspected and found to be intact. Hold no.'s 2, 3 and 5 were approved for discharge. However, hold no.'s 1 and 4 were rejected. A bad odour was reported at the forward end of both hatchways.

The surface of the cargo stow in both of the rejected cargo holds was found to be locally mouldy, discoloured and caked, with temperatures in the affected areas measured up to 63°C. The quantity of damaged cargo was estimated to be about 10 to 12 MT in each hold.

During the pre-discharge inspection of the cargo, examination of the hatch cover panel cross joints of hold no.'s 1 and 4 revealed that a substantial amount of wetted maize kernels and associated residue were present in the drain channels above and between the cross joint sealing. It was apparent that the panel cross joints had not been cleaned in preparation of the hatch covers being closed at the load port. The hatch coaming drain channels were also found to contain cargo residue, which had either not been removed after loading or had collected in the channels through water drainage from the cross joints.

Lessons Learned:

  • The thorough removal of cargo residues from cross joints, coamings, seals, drainage channels and drains upon completion of loading is of paramount importance to maintain the weather-tight integrity of the cargo hold hatch covers.
  • A responsible crew member should be assigned to check that cleaning of the joints, seals and channels is done properly before the hatch covers are closed and secured.
  • These checks should be incorporated into the vessel SMS pre-departure cargo-worthiness check lists.

The UK Club's Loss Prevention team combines practical solutions that address Members' needs and claims experience with research into the wider issues that impact directly on P&I insurance and the Club's exposure to claims. Every year, the UK P&I Club deals with thousands of claims using the expertise and experience of its professional claims handlers, ex-seafarers and lawyers. With five decades of research into loss prevention issues the Club has developed a formidable body of technical material on maritime risks. Each month the Loss Prevention team aim to share some of the Club's claims experience, by looking at real case examples and identifying lessons learnt to help Members avoid similar incidents - you can find past lessons learnt here: https://www.ukpandi.com/loss-prevention/training-advice/lessons-learnt/

Staff Author