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Hatch Covers

Hatch Covers
• Hatch covers are welded fabrications
closing ship’s hatch and therefore they must
have sufficient rigidity and mechanical
Hatch Covers
• Usually they come in two types:
• LIFT AWAY (lifted by deck or port cranes) or
• FOLDING (opened and closed by hydraulic
• Both types depending on the design might be
executed as “open” (with only upper plating) or
“closed” (upper and lower plating and tested for
• Throughout the manufacturing process all hatch
covers are subject to supervision by a
classification society:
• PRS (Polish Register of Shipping),
• GL (Germanischer Lloyd),
• LRS (Lloyd’s Register of Shipping),
• BV (Bureau Veritas).
What is the fundamental importance of
weathertight hatch covers to the safe and
profitable operation of cargo ships?
Importance of Hatch Covers
• ‘Poorly maintained or secured hatch covers
can result in total losses in heavy seas and
are the principal source of the shipping
industry’s $700 million annual cargo
damage claims.
Importance of Hatch Covers
• The problems are particularly severe in
middle-aged ships where poor maintenance
seems to be a major factor. However, even
a perfect hatch cover can, in a moment of
carelessness, become the vehicle of a
commercial disaster.’
Maintenance of Hatch Covers
• The necessary maintenance can be both labour intensive and
logistically difficult to arrange between busy loading
schedules. Sometimes hatches leak despite careful
maintenance -- hatches that appear to be in satisfactory
condition when a ship is in port and berthed in still water,
may start to leak when the ship is in a seaway and subjected
to racking stresses. It is however, true to say that if hatches
are found to leak in port, they are sure to leak in a seaway.
A well planned programme of maintenance should
effectively ensure that any risks of leakage are kept to a
• Frequently, surveyors are instructed to
attend ships and test hatch covers for
watertight integrity and there is some
debate as to how this should best be done.
• There are several options open to the
surveyor wishing successfully to carry out
such tests, and the best approach may be to
follow a combination of several procedures.
Basic Testing Prosedures?
Basic Testing Prosedures

• 1. The simplest initial test may be to have

the hatch battened down and then to enter
the hold and look upwards. In some more
drastic cases this test may demonstrate the
existence of leaks, simply because daylight
can be seen through the gaps in the seals or
through wasted covers.
Basic Testing Prosedures
• 2. The most commonly used test is the hose or water test whereby a jet
of pressurised water is directed at the seams and joints of the hatch covers.
Systematically, all the vulnerable areas of the hatch cov ers are examined.
The surveyor, during this test, is stationed within the hold, so that he can
see if there is any leakage. It is clearly essential to ensure that the water,
usually supplied from the ship's fire main, is supplied at a constant and
sufficient pressure and that the hose is steadily directed in the proper
direction. In some cases it may be appropriate for two surveyors to be
engaged in the test, one on deck and one in the hold. Ideally the hose
should be held at a distance not exceeding one metre from the joint under
test, with a pressure not less than 20kg/cm squared.
• There are a number of disadvantages to this test
apart from the fact that it is time-consuming. The
first is that it may be difficult to ensure adequate
water pressure. Furthermore, a good deal of water
is generated on the deck of the ship and there may
be practical objections to this, particularly if the
water is shed over a quay or into a dock with a
possible risk of pollution. If leakages are
suspected, the test cannot be carried out when the
ship is laden with cargo, for fear of wet damage.
Basic Testing Prosedures
• 3. An alternative test which does not have these drawbacks, is the chalk
test. The aim of the chalk test is to verify whether there is good continuous
contact between the rubber joints and the compression bar. Chalk is
applied to the compression bars and the hatches are then battened down.
They are immediately re-opened and the joints examined. When a clear,
regular mark is observed on the joint, it is assumed that sufficient pressure
exists between the joint and the compression bar. If the chalk mark is
found to be irregular or less pronounced at one point than at others, then it
is assumed that there is some doubt as to water tight integrity. However
endless inconclusive results can ensue rendering the process time
consuming and uncertain.
Basic Testing Prosedures

• 4. Ultra-sonic testing is the most reliable, precise

and rapid method a vailable. Testing by ultra-sonic
equipment gives the exact location and extent of
any leakage, is easy and quick to operate, does not
require assistance from crew members, and most
importantly, can be used on laden or unladen ships
without any risk of cargo damage.

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