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Web Alert The Carriage of Wood Pulp

News & Insights 9 May 2016

Wood pulp is a wood fibre which has been reduced chemically or mechanically to pulp and is used in the manufacture of paper. The product has a high moisture content and can be susceptible to damage if not carried correctly.

What is wood pulp?
Wood pulp is a wood fibre which has been reduced chemically or mechanically to pulp. It is used in the manufacture of paper. The product has a high moisture content and can be susceptible to damage if not carried correctly. 

The carriage of wood pulp
The carriage of wood pulp requires the vessel to comply with stringent requirements. These demand that all holds are in top condition; clean, dry, no loose paint and no rust.
It is imperative that members take all possible steps to ensure holds are of satisfactory condition. It is well known that paper factories do not accept contaminated pulp or pulp contained in contaminated packaging.
The high moisture content in wood pulp means that during the carriage of the cargo the moisture will migrate outwards from the heart of the stow from warm to cold areas. Some of the moisture will be absorbed into the air and this will then condense on the cold areas of the hold and cargo. The process of condensation in itself is not harmful but the wood pulp will expand locally as a result. Consequently the units are pushed against the sides of the hold which will cause damage to occur during discharge. Furthermore, in extreme circumstances the swelling of seriously wetted bales has resulted in structural damage to the ship.
As such, ventilation of the holds is of crucial importance for both the vessel and the cargo. 
Common causes of damage
The most common causes of damage to wood pulp during carriage are as follows:

  • The holds are not washed prior to loading.
  • Dust/dirt in the hold;
  • Loose paint;
  • Lack of ventilation;
  • Unpainted and rusty spots/areas together with condensation; or 
  • Mechanical / chaffing damage.

Preventative steps
Usually, a representative of the shippers will board the vessel at the port of loading to inspect and approve the holds. This inspection is not always performed by an experienced surveyor but sometimes by a stevedore. Consequently only extreme defects are noted and thus in the majority of instances the holds will be approved.
Despite this approval the onus is on the shipowner to present a ship with a hold suitable for the cargo to be carried. As such, we strongly recommend that these preventive steps are taken to try and deter a claim:

  • Ensure the holds are clean and suitable for the cargo;
  • Ensure that the ventilation of the hold has been checked and is of satisfactory quality; and
  • Ensure that the holds are appropriately painted.
    Holds that are not in perfect condition are likely to result in claims for damaged cargo.

Handling Wood Pulp Claims

Failure to comply with the necessary conditions required to carry wood pulp can result in claims for cargo damage. These may arise as a contractual claim under:

  • Bills of lading, waybills, non-negotiable receipts, booking notes, contracts of affreightment;     
  • Voyage charters; or     
  • Time charters - liability owed by owners to indemnify time-charterers and vice-versa.    

These cargo liabilities are covered under rule 3.13: 
'Loss or shortage of, or damage to, or other responsibility in respect of, cargo or other property intended to be, or being, or having been carried in, on or by the ship arising out of any breach by the member, or by any person for whose acts ... he may be legally liable, of his obligation properly to load, handle, stow, carry, keep, care for, discharge and deliver such cargo ... or out of unseaworthiness or unfitness of the ship'.

The club encourages early notification of any claims so that we can assist in best protecting the member’s interests. With a worldwide network of claim handlers, P&I correspondents, surveyors and lawyers we are well equipped to handle such matters.
We recognise the importance of proactive steps to ensure that the matter is fully investigated and all necessary evidence is collected and retained for the member’s defence. We advise that an early investigation as to the cause of damage or loss should also include an investigation of the physical condition of the ship or other vehicle in which the wood pulp has been carried and the conduct of the crew or other servants of the carrier. Investigation should include an inspection of records kept by the carrier, so we encourage that steps are taken to preserve such documentation. 
This article intends to provide general guidance on the issues. It is not intended to be a definitive guide.  The Standard Club is always on hand to assist. If a member has any questions in relation to this article, they should not hesitate to contact the authors, experts or their usual club contact.

Category: Cargo

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