The various types of containers for dry, refrigerated and liquid cargoes have to comply with international requirements for road, rail and sea transportation. In this blog we discuss the most common regulations applicable, and explain how containers are inspected.
ISO standards -
ISO(International Standards Organization.) standards applicable to new containers involve technical recommendations concerning dimensions and tolerances, dealing specifically with the interchangeability of containers on a global scale.
These standards are not mandatory, but are almost universally complied with. The ISO standard 1496 deals with freight containers in general but also covers the different types of containers, such as dry-freight containers, thermal containers and tank containers.
International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC), 1972
(Entered into force on 6 September, 1977. As of 1 June 1998 it had 64 contracting States, representing 62.16 per cent of world tonnage.)
Due to the rapid increase in the use of freight containers and the development of specialized container ships, in 1967 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) started a study of the safety of containerization in sea transport.
In December 1972 the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC) was signed in Geneva. The aim of the convention was to ensure a high standard of safety for workers during handling and transportation of containers, and also to facilitate international trade by providing uniform international safety regulations.
The CSC made the approval of new containers mandatory and was a welcome means of regulating the construction and safety of containers.
The convention set out procedures for the safety approval of new containers, to be enforced by the States party or organisations authorized by them. The evidence of approval, a Safety Approval Plate, was to be recognised by all when granted by a State party, a system which would allow the containers to move with a minimum of safety control formalities.
It is of interest to note that the CSC was not introduced for the safety of the cargo carried in containers, but for the safety of the persons working around them.
The role of the Classification Societies - The Classification Societies were already engaged in container certification when the CSC was introduced. Most contracting governments chose to authorize these Societies to approve the design, inspection and testing of new containers.( A pioneer some thirty years ago, Bureau Veritas is still a world leader in certification.
of containers, with a market share of 60 per cent of all types of new container approvals, and a similar share for re-certification of tank containers. The rest is largely divided between Lloyd’s Register and American Bureau of Shipping. Both Bureau Veritas and Lloyd’s Register play an important role in the inspection of tank containers. Other Class Societies may have been delegated authority by the various governments, but have only minor world market shares.)
CSC Safety Approval Plate - The CSC Safety Approval Plate is a permanent, non-corrosive, fireproof plate, required to measure no less than 200mm x 100mm. It contains information about the country of approval, approval reference, date of manufacture, manufacturer’s container identification number, maximum operating gross weight, allowable stacking weight for 1.8g(g=9.8 metres/square second, acceleration due to gravity), transverse racking test load value, and may also indicate the end and side walls strength if required. The plate also has room for the month and year of the first examination of new containers and for subsequent examination dates.
The CSC requires the container to have an approval reference on the Safety Approval Plate. For instance, the approval reference “GBLR 8653 975”, means that the container is certified by Lloyd’s Register under authority of Great Britain, 8653 is the approval number and 975 is the date of the approval, i.e., September 1975.
The reference “F/BV/6028/97” means that the approval (number 6028) was provided by Bureau Veritas under authority of the French government in 1997.
Certification of new containers - Certification, carried out by the Class Societies to satisfy requirements of the CSC, will normally include:
– Factory approval (approval of production facilities for mass production to needed quality)
– Design type approval (review of drawings and specifications and testing of prototype)
– Survey of production units (verification of compliance with approved type during production)
– On line and final inspection (random verification of workmanship, production tests, and final inspection of each individual unit or of units selected at random)
Class Societies will usually place a sticker with their logo on the container door, confirming that they carried out the initial certification of the container at the factory.
The sticker is only a marketing element; it has no function in the approval or maintenance of the container. The all important proof of compliance with the CSC is the Safety Approval Plate.
What is classed as high voltage?
In marine practice, voltages below 1,000Vac (1kV) are considered low voltage, and high voltage is any voltage above 1kV. Typical marine high voltage system voltages are 3.3kV, 6.6kV and 11kV.
High voltage equipment -
A typical high voltage installation will incorporate only high voltage rated equipment on the following:
On the cold but clear night of April 14th 1912 on board the brand new steamer Titanic, the crow’s nest bell suddenly rings three times, followed by the ringing of the nest telephone on the bridge. The telephone is answered by the Sixth Officer, who hears the Lookout’s urgent warning, “Iceberg, right ahead!”
About ninety minutes later the ship had sunk and the tragedy started to dawn as 1,500 people drowned or froze to their deaths. What was believed to have been built by mankind to resist even the damage of striking an iceberg had now perished. Ice had proved tougher than expected.
The above incident is, of course, one of a kind in many aspects, but it shows that the forces of nature, in this case ice, never can nor should be underestimated.
Mariners can now download a new iPad/iPhone app that warns of proximity to areas of high risk of collision with critically endangered North Atlantic right whales along the east coast of the U.S. The free “Whale Alert” app provides a single source for information about right whale management measures and the latest data about right whale detections, all overlaid on NOAA digital charts.
A key feature is a display linking near real-time acoustic buoys that listen for right whale calls to an iPad or iPhone on a ship’s bridge showing the whale’s presence to captains transiting the shipping lanes in and around Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the new Vessel General Permit (VGP) on November 30, 2011. This is a draft of the permit which will go into effect on December 19, 2013. This draft has been released for public comment, so don’t miss the opportunity to provide your input.
I must commend the EPA for providing some constructive clarifications and procedures in this updated version of the permit. Here are some highlights:
* This permit does not apply to any vessel when it is operating in a capacity other than as a means of transportation.
Historically, a vessel arrives in port when, on voyage-charter, she arrives at the customary anchorage. The Master then tenders Notice of Readiness (NOR).
This basically tells the charterer and, anyone else who is interested, that the vessel is ready, in all respects, to load or discharge her cargo. Effectively it is the end of the sea voyage and this is when the port stay starts. This is important as the charter party will stipulate who is responsible for charges, payment and services (lay time and demurrage).
Nowadays, the customary anchorage can be widely interpreted and provides a good topic for the lawyers! For example: a loaded super tanker may end her sea voyage miles from the customary anchorage and the pilot will board by helicopter. Similarly, if there is a berth ready, the vessel may proceed directly to the berth and not go to the anchorage. We will find that even in this day of instant communication, a lot of the laws date back to the old days where communications were not always efficient.
Does your company have a safety management system (SMS), a safety program, or internal safety policies? Are there problems with implementation or making sure that all policies are consistently complied with? Are there items in the manual which do not apply to your vessels or operations? Does the manual call for unrealistic work practices? If you answered “yes” to these questions, rest assured you are not alone. Unfortunately, however, your company could also be in danger of severe financial penalties, and/or litigation. In some case, such as a serious accident, individuals, depending upon their position in the company, might even face imprisonment.
The latest trend in regulatory schemes is performance based regulations. This type of regulation usually requires the regulated entity to come up with a plan or system which will meet the performance based criteria in the regulations, such as International Safety Management (ISM) and the impending towing vessel inspection regulations. Some organizations also require member companies to implement an SMS such as the American Waterways Operators (AWO) Responsible Carrier Program (RCP). Regardless of the source, not fully implementing and complying with these plans can have serious consequences in the event of an accident.
Seafarers are aware that heat illness can frequently occur on board ships due to the extreme temperatures in which they sometimes need to work.
However, the onset is usually recognized and resolved quickly, with no permanent effects. Heat stroke though is far more critical.
Unfortunately the we are aware of a number of cases where this has caused the crew member to become seriously ill, and has even resulted in death.