General Dry Bulk Cargo Surveys





As you might have noticed, the ship above is a bulk carrier, not a yacht or small craft. Only Conventional vessels are used to carry cargo, distributing it all over the world. This is a special manual that has nothing to do with yachts and small crafts. Ships that carry cargo are Conventionally regulated. The key Convention is SOLAS 74/78 which deals specifically with Safety of Life at sea. There is also other related Conventions IMO has developed to support SOLAS in other areas of navigation. The learner will, in this chapter understand the following:

  • The requirement of cargo safety
  • Proper preparation of cargo before shipment
  • Preparation of cargo spaced onboard
  • Surveyors role in surveying cargo
  • Understanding draught surveys
  • Carrying out quantity surveys

Cargo Surveys are solely meant to ensure that the vessel is cargo worthy. Other types of surveys we have mentioned in Yachts and Small Craft Surveys have nothing to do with cargo, as boats are not transporting cargo internationally. Yachts and small craft surveys are about the safety of boats only, whilst Marine surveys of SOLAS vessels are about the safety of life and property at sea. To achieve that goal, the ship must be seaworthy. This requires one to ensure that both the interest of the shipper and the ship-owner are taken care of. The carriage of goods by sea Convention was developed to introduce the kinds of contracts to be used. One of the requirements, amongst others, is that the cargo must be safely secured and stored onboard. Further, it must be confirmed that the cargo aligns with its labelling and should not cause incidents during the voyage. The ship should, therefore, be cargo worthy. That’s where the role of a cargo surveyor kicks in. It is the responsibility of the shipper to confirm the condition of the cargo spaces and equipment used by the crew for the carriage of the cargo.

2  Definitions

Full Container Load (FCL) – an ocean shipment in which the cargo occupies the size of the container (in TEUs) or could 40TEUs (Twenty Equivalent Units)

Cargo Lashings – securing container or cargo to the ship structure using lashing rods, turnbuckles, twist locks etc, preventing the cargo from moving and falling off.

Portside- Left side of the ship- the side of the ship which is to the left of an observer facing the bow i.e. that is facing forward towards the direction the ship is heading when underway.

Starboard- Right side of the ship

Reefer Containers –Containers for keeping perishable goods at optimum temperatures

Hydrometer- A hydrometer is an instrument used for measuring the relative density of liquids based on the concept of buoyancy.

Buoyancy –   Buoyancy in simpler terms is a force on an object making that object rise or move upwards or float. It is made by the difference in pressure put on the object by water or air that the object is in. buoyancy causes ships to float.

Draught- a draught survey is a calculation of the weight of cargo loaded or unloaded to or from a ship from measurements of changes in its displacement. The technique is based on Archimedes principle. The procedure is standardized by the UN Economic Commission for Europe


The draught of a ship’s hull is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull(keel), with the thickness of the hull included. Draft determines the minimum depth of water a ship or boat can safely navigate.