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23 May 2014

Poor lashing procedures cause destruction

The incedent 

During a voyage across the English Channel in heavy weather some vehicles on the car decks broke their lashings with the result that 18 lorries, their cargoes and three cars were damaged, resulting in many claims.

Observations Surveyors appointed by the Club reported that the principal  cause of the damage was the ship’s crew’s failure to properly lash the articulated vehicles. Our surveyors reported that there was no company operating manual on board giving the crew guidance on car deck operations and safety. M-Notices and IMO publications were also unavailable. The Master had given no standing orders relating to car deck safety, nor had he set weather criteria above which cargo should be lashed. The majority of the damage was caused by a number of articulated vehicles which were only secured by four lashings, one at each corner of the combined vehicles. This lashing system was totally inadequate for vehicles that did not form a rigid unit. In each case the damage was caused by the vehicles jack-knifing, i.e. hinging at the joint between the tractor and trailer units. The jack-knifing resulted in the general slackening of the lashings which were then subjected to shock loadings from the movement of ship and vehicles, with the consequence that they eventually parted.

The claims that resulted from this incident were completely avoidable. Lashing the vehicles in accordance with IMO guidelines would have prevented the jack-knifing and consequent damage. Companies operating ro-ro ferries are now required to provide their vessels with a comprehensive cargo securing manual and Masters should issue standing instructions on when lashing is required and who has responsibility for ensuring that it is done.

Root cause Inadequate lashing.

Financial cost The damage to the vehicles amounted to US$128,150.