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Gard Guidance Masters


For further details please refer to Gard Loss Prevention Circular 11-02: Automated Cargo, Ballast Monitoring and Control Systems.

Computerisation of vessel bridges and engine rooms is becoming more commonplace. Improper operation of advanced technology cargo and ballast monitoring and control systems can

  • lead to unintended listing
  • excessive stresses on the structure
  • loss of positive stability,
    which may result in
  • structural damage
  • pollution
  • damage to property on board and ashore.

    Ballast water operations require careful planning and co-operation between deck and engine room personnel

  • detailed instructions, preferably in writing, should be given before commencing any such operations
  • proper and effective communication between the deck and engine room personnel is required.

    Lack of regular inspections and breach of recommended testing and maintenance procedures can cause damage to cargo, ballast monitoring and control systems.

    Section 7 of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code requires the Company to identify key shipboard operations that may have an impact on safety and pollution prevention. Procedures covering these operations must be documented and effectively implemented. These procedures include defining and assigning tasks to qualified personnel.

    Sufficient training needs to be provided, for personnel responsible for the safe onboard operation, inspection and maintenance of such systems. The training and familiarisation requirements for joining personnel in respect of their responsibilities must be identified and fulfilled as required by the ISM Code and Code and Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW 95). The operation and inspection of equipment undertaken by inexperienced and/or personnel recently having joined the vessel should be directly supervised by responsible personnel until such time that the person concerned is sufficiently familiar with the operation and/or inspection of the system.

    The Master should ensure that the personnel involved in the operation, inspection, repair or maintenance of such systems have a good understanding of any limitations of the system and are aware of the “distraction” factor with special emphasis on the false sense of security that such technologically advanced equipment may provide.

    If, for example, the vessel’s actual draft readings differ from those indicated by the automated cargo and control system, the Master and personnel involved should immediately verify the cause of the difference and take corrective action. The measures taken need to be recorded in detail in the appropriate log.