A container ship which did not meet the minimum access
requirements for container stow working space was recently unable
to discharge containers at an Australian port and was forced to
leave Australia with containers onboard, with the vessel eventually
returning to SE Asia to tranship the containers to other vessels
which complied with the requirements.
The Marine Order imposes strict requirements for the loading and
unloading of vessels and, in particular, prescribes minimum access
requirements for cargo working areas. For example, where containers
are manually secured on a ship, a minimum distance of 550mm between
adjacent ends of containers must be provided at all times. Where
the container stow extends to the side of the ship, a platform of
at least 550mm by 550mm clear of all lashing points and attachments
must be provided extending to the side of the ship at a height
convenient for a person to secure or release the lashings.
Until recently, vessels which did not meet the minimum
requirements prescribed in the Marine Order were generally allowed
to undertake cargo operations where the vessel could be safely
worked under alternative arrangements agreed by the carrier,
stevedores and AMSA, however, recent instances suggest an
increasing reluctance on the part of stevedores and AMSA to allow
cargo operations to be undertaken where the requirements are not
met (particularly for vessels on subsequent voyages).
It is therefore recommended that vessels carrying containers
provide a working space of at least 550mm clear of all obstructions
between and alongside containers. Where it is not possible for a
vessel to provide a walkway meeting the minimum working space,
carriers should avoid using container bays which do not allow for
the minimum space.
Carriers should also be aware that the Navigation Act
prohibits vessel crew handling cargo at an Australian port so the
crew will be prohibited from unlashing or lashing
containers should stevedores refuse to do so because of the
vessel's failure to meet the minimum working space
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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