Principal Cause of Cargo Damage: Leaking Hatch Covers

Leaking hatch covers are generally accepted as a principal cause of cargo damage. Hatches leak for a variety of reasons, but mainly because of poor maintenance or failure to seal them properly after loading. Leaking or badly maintained hatch covers can lead to more serious consequences than wet cargo such as flooding, accelerated corrosion or even loss of the ship. Improper sealing of hatches can lead to water ingress, which may cause damage to cargo or even catastrophic loss of life and vessel. This is supported by another report on hatch covers tester from 2001 that “hatch cover deterioration or mal-operation could jeopardise the lives of seafarers and may contribute to the loss of vessels. 33% of large claims by value in general cargo and bulk carrier vessels are caused by leaking hatch covers. Even on new ships, hatch covers may only be truly weather-tight in the static "alongside" condition and cannot be guaranteed in dynamic sea state conditions 

The Swedish P&I Club has noticed that there is an increased number of costly wet damage claims. These claims are most commonly seen on bulk carriers and container vessels. Wet damage claims make up 19.56% of claims in total. The poor condition of cargo hatch covers is often the reason behind this. The Swedish P&I Club have pushed for more preventive measures for cargo hatch cover issues, including regular ultrasonic tests on cargo hatches. Successfully, Coltraco have designed the Portascanner® WATERTIGHT, a portable Ultrasonic Watertight Integrity indicator – for testing watertight and weather-tight seals. This is designed primarily to enhance the ease and accuracy with which critical watertight, airtight or weather tight seals can be inspected for leak sites or areas of reduced compression in the seal. The ultrasound generator emits a modulated signal of a specific frequency of ultrasound (in most cases 40,000Hz). The receiver then picks up the signal and converts it into a result indicating watertight integrity

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