Page images
PDF
EPUB

The following description of how a fire was extinguished on a foreign-owned passenger and cargo-carrying vessel is of interest in this connection. The fire broke out in a 'tween-deck compartment and was apparently caused by spontaneous ignition of one or more hazardous articles. Goods stowed in the compartment included sodium nitrate, pharmaceutical products, photographic film (extremely hazardous and for that reason frequently carried in a special film locker on deck), and Christmas toys and tree decorations which possibly were made of pyroxylin plastic materials which are susceptible to ignition either by friction, spontaneous heating, or decomposition.

As soon as the presence of the fire was indicated by the smokedetecting system, the ship was stopped and steam was injected into the burning compartment. However, the captain and chief officer were not satisfied with the efficiency of this method of extinguishing the fire, so three holes were burned in the overhead deck with an acetylene-burning outfit to admit a fire hose into the 'tween-deck compartment where the burning cargo was located. After considerable water was discharged into the 'tween-deck compartment and hold, the vessel took a list and the master ordered the water shut off until the excess water could be pumped out.

Then 42 bottles of carbon dioxide gas were brought from the engine room. Small holes were burned through the steel hatch trunk and the carbon dioxide gas was injected into the 'tween deck. After some time the fire hose was again turned on the fire. The fire was subdued by these means and, after a delay of approximately 10 hours, the vessel proceeded on its voyage.

LOSSES FROM PILFERAGE

Damage caused to cargo by pilferage is extremely widespread and is difficult to prevent. Proper stowage can prevent or diminish it in.

some cases.

Damage by pilferage is not always heavy as regards the goods actually stolen, but the breaking open of containers often results in serious claims. For example, liquid containers have been broached so as to cause leakage which has seriously damaged other valuable cargo, or delicate and costly instruments and machinery have been ruined by pilferers who have violently broken open cases, searching for easily disposed-of goods.

The losses from pilferage are usually greatest in connection with foodstuffs and liquors, and with small articles of high value such as expensive cloths, lingerie, valuable small instruments and tools, and precious metals or metal plate. But many other sorts of articles are also stolen, such as soap, shoes, and toilet goods, all of which can be easily concealed and easily disposed of for cash.

Precautions that may be taken against pilferage during loading and discharging or while the goods are on the dock include:

The use of special securely-locked spaces for cargo especially liable to pilferage during the time it is on the dock, either before loading or after delivery from the ship and pending delivery to the consignee.

Maintenance of a strict watch by ship's officers in the holds whenever cargo particularly liable to pilferage is being loaded or discharged, or is accessible in the holds while the hatches are off,

Stowage of pilferable cargo, when possible, near the square of the hatch or in the wings opposite the hatch openings, where it can be kept under observation. Avoid stowage of such cargo, if possible, in remote, dark corners of the holds where pilferers may work unobserved.

Provision of an adequate lighting system to illuminate the holds and the pier apron when night work is in progress.

Stowage of other goods on top of pilferable cargo as soon as possible, in order to make the latter inaccessible.

Provision of a sufficient number of reliable relief watchmen to guard the holds during hours when regular watchmen are absent from the ship. Experience has shown that pilferers very frequently take advantage of the regular watchmen's brief but periodic absences to do their work.

Fitting of ventilators leading to compartments containing pilferable cargo with bars or screens, to prevent pilferers using these openings to reach such compartments.

Valuable goods, such as jewelry, are, of course, extremely liable to pilferage, but these are usually given special handling and are carried in the purser's safe or specially provided securely locked. compartments.

INSUFFICIENT PACKING

The United States Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1936, states that "neither the carrier nor the ship shall be responsible for loss or damage arising or resulting from. . . insufficiency of packing.” The act also states that "The carrier shall properly and carefully load, handle, stow, carry, keep, care for, and discharge the goods carried." Thus, the responsibility of providing adequate packing to carry goods undamaged to destination rests squarely with the shipper. The steamship companies have their responsibilities_as well, but they cannot be held liable for damage if goods delivered to them for carriage are insufficiently packed. The status of the shipper and the carrier in respect to packing and stowing was further clarified by a decision handed down by the United States Circuit Court of Appeals in March 1940, which is described in chapter I, and to which the reader is referred. Briefly, this decision stated that neither the vessel nor its operator can be held liable if goods offered for shipment are not packed in a manner to withstand the ordinary hazards of an ocean voyage, always providing that the goods are stowed with usual care in accordance with the prevailing practice.

Exporters do not always realize that it is their responsibility to furnish packing that will prove "sufficient" to protect their shipments thoroughly against the usual hazards of ocean transportation. consequence, a large amount of damage results from insufficient packing. Some shippers, relying upon their insurance company to pay for damage, lose sight of the fact that if their claim record is poor and they do nothing to improve their packing, they will inevitably be obliged sooner or later to pay higher insurance rates. Meanwhile, their relations with foreign customers will not have been improved by the frequent delivery of broken or unsalable merchandise.

Poor packing is a source of trouble for everyone concerned-the shipper, the consignee, the steamship company, and the insurance company. Every United States exporting company should make certain that its packing is sufficient and of the right kind to deliver its products in good condition. The record of insurance claims will usually reveal whether or not it requires attention. Oftentimes the difference in cost between inadequate packing and good packing

amounts to no more than a few cents per package. One of the worst types of false economy is to use cheap shipping containers which may permit contents to become damaged, when a better container or improved interior packing costing a few cents more will properly protect the shipment.

The subject of export packing to provide protection against breakage, etc., involves consideration of the different types of containers that may be used, as well as different methods of interior packing, and in many cases, as with metal articles and some textile goods, the adoption of some method to prevent the development of rust or mildew. Space does not permit a discussion of these questions in the present volume, but the reader is referred to T. P. S. No. 207, Modern Export Packing, issued by the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, and obtainable from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. This volume discusses every phase of export packing and should be consulted by shippers who are experiencing difficulty with their ocean shipments.

CHAPTER VIII

DAMAGE FROM TEMPERATURE CHANGES DURING THE VOYAGE

Damage from changes in temperature during the ocean voyage may be classified as damage caused by heat, cold, and sweat or condensed moisture. All these types of damage are closely interrelated, one giving rise to the other or two types (as heat and sweat) occurring simultaneously in the same cargo hold. Much of the damage from these causes is preventable, provided the proper steps are taken by those in charge of stowage and by the master and officers of the ship when pronounced temperature changes are encountered during the voyage.

DAMAGE FROM HEAT

A great amount of damage to certain classes of cargo is caused by the excessive heat encountered on long voyages through or into tropical waters. The damage caused by heat alone is considered here other damage that may result from heating causing evaporation, sweating, etc., is dealt with later in this chapter.

Moderate heat will damage chocolate, lard, and hardened oils, cheese, syrups, wine, beer, ale, and similar goods. It will also cause wet or damp hygroscopic cargoes, such as green lumber, pulp and paper, grain, seeds, flower bulbs, dry hides, and most other products of plant or animal origin, to release part of their moisture content into the contacting air or cargo in the form of invisible vapor. Such moisture should be removed from the cargo holds by means of ventilation. Otherwise, this moisture may condense on cold cargo or cold inside surfaces of the ship's structure, or may be absorbed by cool hygroscopic cargo. If it condenses to form sweat, it may damage a large quantity of cargo.

Many of the above cargoes, which gave much trouble in the past, are now carried in refrigerator ships or refrigerated compartments. Numerous commodities, chiefly of vegetable or animal origin, are subject to spontaneous heating, and when this occurs they are likely to deteriorate or rot. Examples of commodities of this type include nuts, beans, cocoa, and pepper, which are liable to heat, sweat, and deteriorate; fine seeds, which may heat and germinate if too moist; hay and wool, which if damp may cause spontaneous combustion; jute and some other fibers, also oilseeds, corn, oats, rice, and other grains particularly if shipped in an unripe state-which give off a great deal of moisture with resultant sweating, deterioration, and loss of weight. Also tobacco and oil cake, which become moldy and stale when heated; and copra, jelatong, and gambier, which give off heat and moisture and lose weight. Practically all these commodities, by giving off heat and moisture, may imperil other goods stowed in their vicinity.

Certain precautions may be taken in connection with the stowage of goods of this nature to guard against damage to them or to other goods stowed nearby.

Stowage of these commodities, particularly when in bags, in the holds beneath other cargo is to be avoided, since the pressure and insulating effect of the cargo above the bags increases the generation of heat. Tween-deck stowage is to be preferred.

Do not stow such goods near the engine or boiler room bulkheads. Where such goods are frequently carried, a valuable practice adopted by some companies is to sheath hot bulkheads or to leave a space between bulkhead or ship's side and cargo through which cool air can be circulated.

Do not stow goods liable to spontaneous heating near wet goods, since the former will increase the evaporation of the liquid contents of the latter, which in turn will accelerate heating of the first commodity.

Pick out cargo to stow near or next to goods of this class, which is not likely to be damaged by the heat, moisture, or sweat produced by the spontaneous heating cargo.

Wet or damp packages of such commodities as beans and nuts should not be accepted for shipment or else should not be loaded until they have been thoroughly dried out. Wet packages of such goods will inevitably heat and deteriorate during the voyage.

Proper ventilation is essential, and this, also, is discussed later in this chapter. In addition, however, to stowing goods liable to dangerous heating in the 'tween decks where air circulates more freely than in the holds, circulation of air around this type of cargo should be assisted by using ample dunnage between tiers. It is equally necessary that the air can freely leave the cargo compartment a fact which is often overlooked in stowage. The stevedores should provide a continuous air space of at least 6 inches below the weather deck.

In the Eastern trades, cargo likely to heat is frequently stowed on one or more tiers of pipes, rattans, or similar goods. If a large quantity of a single commodity of this type is being loaded in one compartment, it is advisable to break the stowage by interlaying rattans, bamboo, and other light cargo that is suitable and available for this purpose.

DAMAGE FROM CONDENSED MOISTURE OR SWEAT

Moisture damage or sweat damage probably ruins more cargo each year than any other form of ocean-shipping hazard. This is partly because sweat, or condensed moisture, is so prevalent a condition in the ordinary vessel's cargo holds and partly because so many commodities are susceptible to damage by moisture. Textile goods are discolored and mildewed, metals and machinery are rusted, foodstuffs of many sorts are rendered unpalatable, fibers and grains are heated and fermented, woods of some kinds are stained, and many minerals and chemicals are dissolved or changed in chemical composition. Scores of other commodities, too numerous to mention, are likewise susceptible to being damaged by sweat.

Two kinds of sweat are damaging factors-"ship sweat" and "cargo sweat." The former (fig. 52) is caused largely by some part or

« PreviousContinue »