Hatch Cover Testing

Welcome to Coltraco Ultrasonics’ range of Ultrasonic Watertightness and Leak Detection Systems perfect for testing hatch covers, performing chalk test and checking vessel’s hatch covers, cargod hold and hatch cover joints.

We pride ourselves on the quality, reliability, and accuracy of our ultrasonic testing instruments – all made in the UK.

Our watertight integrity leak detectors use ultrasound to monitor the watertight integrity of any room or compartment, with the capability to locate leak sites as small as 0.5mm in diameter. They are commonly used for watertight integrity testing of hatch covers, watertight doors, multi-cable transit (MCT) areas across bulkheads in marine structures. Ideal for detecting leaking hatch covers, hatch coamings and any hatch cover gasket.

Our Portascanner® range of ultrasound testing systems are powerful, portable tools to aid you in your watertight integrity testing procedures. In our opinion its the most accurate ultrasonic hatch cover tester on the market.

Portable instrument for assessing watertightness, locating and quantifying water leaks, and predicting water flow rates. 

The Portascanner® WATERTIGHT PRO is a unique ultrasonic technology from Coltraco Ultrasonics capable of identifying the exact location of any leak site within a structure, measuring the physical size of the leak, calculating the rate of water flow through it, and providing the ability to record and report observations.

P/N: 509004-PRO
NSN: 6625-99-257-8336
IMPA MSG P/N: 652778


Portascanner® WATERTIGHT PLUS is a handheld watertight integrity tester for inspecting the watertightness and weathertightness of hatch covers, watertight doors and multi cable transit seals in marine environments. It is a portable, handheld solution which can be used by a single operator to test a large number of different hatches and seals in one quick and easy inspection.

P/N: 509004-WTPLUS
NSN: 6625-99-257-8336
IMPA MSG P/N: 652778


What is Hatch Cover Testing?

Hatch covers are essential to cargo ships, ensuring the safe transport of goods across the world’s oceans. The hatch covers are designed to withstand rough sea conditions and protect the cargo from damage due to water ingress.

However, these covers’ reliability depends on regular and thorough testing to ensure they function as designed. This article will explore the process of hatch cover testing and its significance in the shipping industry.

Why choose Ultrasonic Watertight Integrity Testing?

Unlike alternatives such as hatch cover hose testing, ultrasonic leak testing is quick and non-invasive, allowing you to check for leaks in a matter of minutes with practically no impact on the normal operation of your facilities.

Ultrasound enables a reliable and scientific way to assess water tightness. By contrast, chalk testing is easily falsified. The Portascanner® WATERTIGHT TOUCH is the world’s first ultrasonic leak detector capable of quantifying the physical extent of individual leak sites and determining the flow rate of water through them. Our leak-size quantification algorithms have been independently tested and verified by the National Physical Laboratory, meaning you can understand and quantify the risk posed by each leak or seal.

The Portascanner® WATERTIGHT TOUCH contains in-built imaging and reporting functionality to make the surveying process as smooth as possible. Technical support, training, and advice is available throughout the lifetime of the unit and we are here to help you with your application.

Purpose of Hatch Cover Testing

The hatch cover testing aims to evaluate the covers’ structural integrity and water-tightness, ensuring that they function correctly and protect the cargo during transit. This is crucial in ensuring cargo ships’ safe and efficient operation. The testing process provides valuable information on the performance of the covers, allowing for any necessary repairs or replacements to be made before the covers are put into service.

The purpose of hatch cover testing can be broken down into several key objectives:

  1. To evaluate the strength and stability of the covers: The covers must be able to withstand the forces exerted on them by rough sea conditions, as well as the weight of the cargo. Testing helps to determine if the covers can meet these requirements.
  2. To evaluate the water-tightness of the covers: The covers must keep water out of the cargo hold, even in heavy rain or high waves. Testing helps determine if the covers can maintain a watertight seal.
  3. To identify potential weaknesses or defects: Testing helps identify any areas of the covers susceptible to damage or failure, allowing for necessary repairs or replacements.
  4. To comply with regulations: Many countries require cargo ships to undergo regular hatch cover testing. These regulations are in place to ensure the safety of the cargo, crew, and ship.

The hatch cover testing aims to ensure the function of the cover correctly and protect the cargo during transit. The shipping industry can maintain the highest safety and efficiency standards by regularly testing the covers.

What are the Types of Hatch Cover Tests?

Several types of tests can be performed on hatch covers, including:
Hydrostatic Pressure Testing: This test involves subjecting the hatch covers to a specified water pressure to determine their ability to withstand high water loads.
Air Pressure Testing: This test involves subjecting the hatch covers to a specified air pressure to evaluate their air tightness.
Fatigue Testing: This test involves subjecting the hatch covers to repetitive loads over an extended period to evaluate their ability to withstand cyclic loading.
Leakage Testing: This test involves filling the cargo hold with water and checking for leaks in the hatch covers.

How Does Ultrasonic Leak Detection Work?

Ultrasonic leak detection takes advantage of fundamental characteristics of sound waves to identify and precisely locate water leaks in any structure. It makes use of the reflection and absorption behaviour of sound waves when incident on a boundary between a solid structure and the air adjacent to it.

Ultrasonic leak detectors are comprised of two main components: an ultrasound generator and a receiver unit. The generator is placed on one side of a structure and switched on, filling the room or compartment with ultrasound. The receiver is then deployed on the other side of the structure to scan for leaks.

When no leak is present, the ultrasound is reflected or absorbed by the structure and so no ultrasound is detected by the receiver. When the receiver wand is pointed towards a leak, ultrasound is detected as it is able to propagate through the leak path. The reflection and diffraction of the sound wave as it passes through the leak path are affected by the size and shape of the leak, meaning information about the size and shape of the leak can be interpreted by the receiver unit.

hatch cover testing drawing
Hatch Cover Testing Representation

Why is Watertightness Important?

Simply put, water tightness is essential to keep crew, vessels, and cargo safe. Making sure hatches don’t leak is the primary way to ensure confidence against claims for water damage to cargo. Ensuring that cable transits, doors, and bulkheads are as watertight as they should be, means that, in the event of external damage to a vessel, the compartmentalisation of the vessel functions as it should – preventing loss of the ship and saving lives.

For example, in 2013, the Emma Maersk container ship suffered from the mechanical breakdown of a stern thruster while traversing the Suez Canal. When exposed to water ingress, seven different cable transit seals failed, allowing water to penetrate the engine room and ultimately leading to USD 45 million in damages. Such considerable damages could have been prevented had the seals been tested and replaced.

Hatch Covers Common Applications

The Portascanner® range has a proven track record in a number of industries and applications:

  • Shipping/Marine
  • Defence/Naval
  • Oil & Gas
  • Hatch Covers
  • Watertight & Weathertight Doors
  • Multiple Cable Transits

Meets Classification Society Requirements

The Portascanner is designed to meet Classification Society requirements for watertight integrity type of test equipment. The two most relevant Classification Society requirements are DNVGL-CP-0484 and IACS UR Z17.

DNVGL-CP-0484 relates to the service supplier (the company conducting the ultrasonic watertight integrity test) and also lists the exact requirements of the equipment that needs to be used by such service suppliers for ultrasonic watertight integrity testing to comply with the standards. This is in Page 13 and 14 (Chapter 2).

Extract from the requirements as below, and the Portascanner complies with all these:

  • The transmitter shall provide a uniform open hatch value (OHV) over the tested area
  • OHV shall be adjustable to a stable value allowing maximum sensitivity without false side effects
  • The receiver shall be provided with an audible signal and a visual readout, calibrated in decibel
  • Biannual re-calibration tests shall be carried out by laboratories authorised by the manufacturer
  • Fail/pass criterion to be applied in tightness testing:
  • 0 dB hatch cover is leak tight
  • 1 dB to 10% OHV shall mean that the hatch cover is considered weathertight
  • Above 10% OHV shall mean the hatch cover is considered not to be weathertight

Regulation Compliance for hatch cover tests

There are multiple regulations pertaining to watertight/weathertight integrity inspections which are made easier with Portascanner:

SOLAS Reg II-1/11.1

“Where a hose test is not practicable… [it may be replaced by] an ultrasonic leak test or an equivalent test. In any case a thorough inspection of the watertight bulkheads shall be carried out.”

IMO SOLAS Reg II-1/21.3

“The watertight doors and all mechanisms and indicators connected therewith shall be periodically inspected at sea at least once a week.”

IMO SOLAS Reg II-1/13-1.1

“Where penetrations of watertight bulkheads and internal decks are necessary for access, piping, ventilation, electrical cables, etc., arrangements are to be made to maintain the watertight integrity.”

IACS Rules – Requirements for Ultrasonic Watertight Integrity Service Providers

“2. Firms engaged in tightness testing of closing appliances such as hatches, doors etc. with ultrasonic equipment.”

For More Information on Hatch Cover Testing, Contact Coltraco Ultrasonics Today

Hatch cover testing is an essential aspect of the shipping industry, ensuring the safe transport of goods across the world’s oceans. The various tests performed on the covers provide valuable information on their performance, allowing for necessary repairs or replacements before they are put into service. Regular testing is critical to the safety of the cargo, crew, and ship, and the shipping industry must prioritise this vital process.

For more information, contact the team at Coltraco Ultrasonics today.

Hatch Cover Testing FAQs

What is the hatch cover testing method?

Hatch cover testing is a procedure used to check the integrity of the hatch covers on a ship. This is important because hatch covers must be watertight to protect the cargo from seawater. The testing methods identify any leaks or defects in the hatch covers that could cause water to enter the cargo hold.

What is the most popular way of testing done on hatch covers?

The most popular method of testing hatch covers is the hose test. This involves spraying water on the hatch cover at a pressure of 0.5 bar for a specified period of time, usually 15 minutes. If any leaks or defects are found, the hatch cover must be repaired before the ship can sail.

What are the methods for leak testing of a ship’s hatch cover?

Apart from the hose test, other methods for leak testing hatch covers include:

  • Chalk testing
  • Ultrasonic testing
  • Vacuum testing
  • Water drip testing
What are the three types of hatch covers?

The three types of hatch cover commonly used on ships are:

  • Folding hatch covers
  • Rolling hatch covers
  • Lift-away hatch covers
Why must hatch covers be inspected?

Hatch covers must be checked to ensure watertight and protect the cargo from seawater. A failure in the hatch cover system can lead to water ingress, which can damage or destroy the cargo, endanger the crew’s safety, and threaten the vessel’s stability.

What is a chalk test for hatch covers?

The chalk test involves drawing a line on the hatch cover with a piece of chalk, then closing the hatch cover and running a hose over the area. If any water enters the cargo hold and comes into contact with the chalk line, it will leave a mark indicating the leak’s location. This method is less commonly used than the hose test but can be a proper additional method to identify more minor leaks.

What are the methods of testing a hatch cover?

There are several methods for testing the integrity of a hatch cover. Common methods include hose testing, chalk testing, ultrasonic testing, vacuum testing, and hose/water spray testing. These methods help identify potential leaks, gaps, or weaknesses in the hatch cover system, ensuring its effectiveness in protecting the cargo hold from water ingress.

How do you test that a hatch cover is watertight?

To test the watertightness of a hatch cover, various methods can be employed. One common approach is the hose/water spray test, where high-pressure water is sprayed onto the closed hatch cover system. Any water penetration or leaks observed indicate potential areas of concern that require further inspection and maintenance.

What is the purpose of hatch cover inspection?

The purpose of hatch cover inspection is to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the hatch cover system in preventing water ingress into the cargo hold of a ship. Regular inspections help identify any deficiencies, damage, or wear in the hatch covers, gaskets, seals, or supporting structures. This proactive approach helps maintain the safety of the vessel, protect the cargo, and comply with regulatory requirements.

What is the most popular way of testing done on hatch covers?

The hose/water spray test is one of the most commonly used methods for testing hatch covers. It involves applying high-pressure water onto the closed hatch cover system to detect any water ingress or leaks. This test provides a practical and reliable assessment of the watertightness of the hatch covers.

What is the most important item to check before closing a hatch cover?

One of the most crucial items to check before closing a hatch cover is the condition and position of the sealing gaskets. The gaskets ensure a proper seal between the hatch covers and coamings, preventing water from entering the cargo hold. It is essential to ensure that the gaskets are in good condition, free from damage or debris, and correctly aligned before closing the hatch covers.

What is a hose test on hatch cover pressure?

A hose test on hatch cover pressure refers to the application of high-pressure water using a hose onto the closed hatch cover system. The purpose of this test is to evaluate the watertightness of the hatch covers by simulating challenging weather conditions and identifying any potential leaks or areas of concern.

Why is inspection of hatch cover important prior to leaving the berth or port?

Inspecting hatch covers prior to leaving the berth or port is crucial to ensure the vessel’s safety and cargo protection during the voyage. By conducting a thorough inspection, any issues with the hatch covers, gaskets, or securing mechanisms can be identified and rectified before encountering adverse weather conditions or rough seas. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of water ingress, cargo damage, and compromises to the vessel’s stability.

What are the 5 different types of hatch cover?

The five different types of hatch covers commonly found on ships are folding covers, rolling covers, lift-away covers, pontoon covers, and side-rolling covers. Each type has its design and operation mechanism, but they all serve the purpose of providing access and sealing the cargo holds to prevent water ingress.

What pressure range is a leak test?

The pressure range for a leak test on hatch covers can vary depending on the specific requirements and regulations. Generally, the test pressure ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 bars (21.75 to 36.25 pounds per square inch). However, it is essential to refer to industry standards, vessel-specific guidelines, and manufacturer recommendations for the appropriate pressure range for conducting a leak test.

What pressure should I test my hose pipe?

The pressure at which you should test your hose pipe depends on its intended use and the specific requirements of your application. It is important to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or specifications for the hose pipe to determine the recommended pressure range for testing. Testing at a pressure within the manufacturer’s specified range ensures the integrity and performance of the hose pipe while minimizing the risk of damage or failure.

Are hatch covers weathertight or watertight?

Hatch covers are designed to be both weathertight and watertight, although the specific terminology can vary. Weathertight refers to the ability of the hatch covers to prevent the entry of rain, spray, and other weather elements into the cargo hold. Watertight, on the other hand, refers to the capability of the hatch covers to withstand water pressure and prevent the ingress of water in rough seas or challenging marine conditions. Both weather tightness and water tightness are essential to ensure the safety of the vessel, crew, and cargo during voyages.