187/17/Gen.Inf. How to transport soya beans carriage safely

UK P&I Club issued a report in order to advise on safe transportation of soya beans. According to the report, Brazil is expected to produce a record soya bean crop yield this year, which is reflected in the number of vessels currently queuing at Brazilian ports.

Hold preparation before loading- Cleaning

Firstly, UK notes that the ship’s holds should be cleaned prior to loading a cargo of soya beans. There are several grades of cleaning, with the most stringent being “hospital clean”. The cleanliness required for soya beans is generally regarded as one grade below hospital clean, namely “grain clean”, the most common standard of cleanliness used in the transport of bulk and break bulk cargoes. According to this standard, the US National Cargo Bureau suggests that the hold should be free of the following:

▪ Stains and residues of the previous cargo
▪ Loose rust scale and paint scale
▪ Any other contaminants
▪ Insect infestation
▪ Odours
▪ Moisture

A typical hold cleaning will involve sweeping the tanktop before washing the holds. Before loading, it would be prudent for the Master to carry out a hose test to ensure that the hatch covers and ventilation windows are weather tight.

Considerations during the loading

The report says that soya bean cargoes can be loaded in a number of ways: directly from barges, from flat warehouses or silos or from trucks. In many cases, the cargo is transferred to the vessel by conveyor belt and loaded by pipe. If loading is conducted from barges, it is worthwhile that the crew note the number and/or names of the barges and the holds, into which each barge loads. The sequence of hold loading in all circumstances should be recorded. Clear photographs of how the cargo is delivered to the vessel, as well as how it is loaded, will be invaluable in the event of a claim.


UK urges operators to appoint a cargo superintendent to sample the cargo throughout loading, according to a representative sampling method, in order to obtain representative samples, which can be assessed for cargo quality in the event a cargo claim arises. However, this is often a costly exercise. Owners may wish to invite all parties to sample the cargo representatively, in order to share costs. If representative sampling during loading is not feasible, collecting some samples through loading may provide an indication of the cargo condition which was loaded, without being representative. How these samples were collected and from which location needs to be clearly documented.

Heated fuel oil tanks

The report focuses on heated fuel oil tanks, stating that prolonged exposure to high temperatures from heated bunker tanks can lead to direct heat-related discolouration of soya beans located next to the tank. This will have a direct impact on the oil and protein quality of the beans. The temperature gradient established over time between the tanks and cargo will drive moisture up through the cargo, resulting in further heating of cargo at some distance from the heated tanks.

Ideally, soya beans should not be loaded in holds adjacent to fuel oil tanks, which are likely to be heated. Top side wing fuel oil tanks present a lower risk than those located in the double bottom as there is likely to be less cargo in direct contact with the steelwork of a top side wing fuel oil tank. If is it unavoidable that the cargo has to be loaded into holds adjacent to heated fuel oil tanks, the Master should inform the Chief Engineer that a temperature-sensitive cargo is to be loaded, to allow for a suitable heating plan to be prepared.

Ventilation throughout the voyage and during delays

The cargo should be ventilated in accordance with sound maritime practice and any carriage instructions provided to the vessel. Ventilation should be conducted in accordance with the fumigation instructions, where applicable and when the weather/sea conditions permit. It is important to avoid wetting of the cargo.


As for the discharge, the Master is advised to instruct the crew to monitor the discharge operations carefully. This entails noting and photographing how discharge is undertaken. The quantity of spilled cargo should be noted and, if excessive, a Protest issued. Any delays, that were not the fault of the vessel, should also be recorded. In the event that damaged cargo is discovered, the Master and operators should inform their P&I Club as soon as possible, in order to appoint a local surveyor to discern the location, depth and (if possible) extent of the damage. It is often the case that the location of any damage can be used to hypothesise the cause. Detailed photographs and even drawings of the damage location would be useful. In the event that a local surveyor cannot attend immediately, it would assist if the Master/ crew photograph and document the damage clearly.

Source & Image credit: UK P&I Club


Thank you & Best Regards,

Eng. Dimitrios Nikolaos Spanos
Lead Maritime Auditor / Principal Surveyor
Member of IRCA, IIMS, ELINT, HELMEPA & Nautical Institute


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