February 2 - The UK P&I Club has joined forces with Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) to publish new practical guidance for shipowners and operators on how to carry heavy lift and project cargo safely at sea.

Recent incidents with such cargo have led to significant ship and cargo losses, as well as multimillion dollar claims for consequential project delays.

"The increasing globalisation of infrastructure supply chains means ships are carrying bigger, more expensive and often awkwardly shaped project cargo," said Karl Lumbers, loss prevention director at the UK P&I Club.

"We are increasingly concerned about the lack of expertise, skills and resources being deployed in this complex area of transportation, in all parts of the chain, both ashore and on board.

"The use of unsuitable vessels for the cargo, poor quality or inadequate securing and dunnage, inexperienced personnel and a lack of detailed planning can all lead to damage or loss of the cargo."

Therefore, the two bodies have teamed together, gaining independent expert input from London-based marine survey and consultancy company Cwaves, to produce the practical guide 'Project cargo matters', as well as its main recommendations in a pocket-sized checklist entitled 'How to handle project cargoes'.

'Project cargo matters' describes the characteristics of typical heavy lift and project cargo and includes details of relevant regulations and codes, a review of vessel types and suitability, recommended loading and discharge procedures, detailed stowage and securing advice, and requirements for voyage planning, reporting and record keeping.

Pitfalls highlighted within the guide include the use of inherently unsuitable bulk carriers; loading a ship such that it rolls too slowly or too quickly and overloads the cargo fastenings; mixing "hard" fastenings such as stoppers with "soft" fastenings such as lashings to resist the same force; and failing to ensure that heavy items in containers are properly secured.

Captain Rahul Khanna, global head of marine risk consulting at AGCS, added: "The cost involved in project cargo damages or losses can be very large, often running into tens, possibly hundreds of millions of dollars. The risk involved can be largely mitigated with careful planning and attention before the cargo is received for shipment and by always following the procedures contained in our new guide jointly produced with the UK P&I Club."