Safety requirements for terminals for bulk carriers

Considering the high number of shipping accidents involving bulk carriers with an associated loss of human lives, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers (“the BLU Code”) in 1997.

The BLU Code provides guidance to masters, terminal operator and other parties involved for the safe handling, loading and unloading of solid bulk cargoes.

On the basis of the BLU Code, Directive 2001/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing harmonised requirements and procedures for the safe loading and unloading of bulk carriers was developed and adopted. The purpose of the Directive is to enhance the safety of bulk carriers calling at terminals in the Member States in order to load or unload solid bulk cargoes, by reducing the risks of excessive stresses and physical damage to the ship’s structure during loading or unloading. Hence the Directive establishes:

1. harmonised suitability requirements for those ships and terminals; and
2. harmonised procedures for cooperation and communication between those ships and terminals.

Requirements for terminals

Safety requirements apply to terminals that service bulk carriers with the terminal loading and unloading equipment. The requirements do not apply to general cargo vessels and in case of loading and unloading grain.

What are the main requirements for terminals?

1. the terminal shall have a representative;
2. information books shall be prepared about the terminal, containing information necessary for vessels and these shall be made available to the masters of  vessels;
3. a quality management system shall have been developed and implemented at the terminal;
4. only such bulk carriers shall be accepted at the terminal that can safely berth alongside the loading or unloading installation;
5. terminal loading and unloading equipment shall be properly certified;
6. terminal personnel shall be in all aspects of safe loading and unloading of bulk carriers commensurate with their responsibilities;
7. terminal personnel involved in the loading and unloading operations shall be provided with personnel protective equipment.

Which documents are necessary before loading and unloading operations commence and after they are completed?

1. In case of loading solid bulk cargo, the terminal shall promptly provide the master with the required cargo information, usually contained in the cargo declaration.
2. The terminal / port shall provide the master with all the information necessary for the safe arrival of the vessel at the terminal.
3. Before loading or unloading the master and the terminal representative shall agree on the loading or unloading plan in accordance with the provisions of Regulation VI/7.3 of the SOLAS Convention. The loading or unloading plan shall contain the IMO number of the bulk carrier. The master and the terminal representative shall confirm their agreement to the plan by signing it.
4. Before loading or unloading is commenced, the ship/shore safety checklist shall be completed and signed jointly by the master and the terminal representative in accordance with the guidelines of Appendix 4 of the BLU Code.
5. On completion of the loading or unloading, the master and the terminal representative shall agree in writing that the loading or unloading has been done in accordance with the loading or unloading plan, including any agreed changes.
6. The terminal shall keep the documents related to the loading or unloading operations for a period of at least six months.

Last updated: 09.09.2021