There can be no doubt that inadequate maintenance is a major cause of many hatch cover defects. The marine environment is a harsh one. Damp salt-laden air, water on deck and dusty, abrasive cargoes all take their toll on a ship’s structure and fittings, which deteriorate rapidly if proper preventive measures are not taken. Yet it is too often evident from the condition of ships presented for survey and repair that such measures have been neglected. This is inexcusable. Damage to cargo by the entry of sea water costs money, and in extreme cases leakage can lead to the loss of the ship.
The increasing size of ships, coupled with their reduced time in port and their smaller crews, serves to make maintenance programmes more difficult to complete. There are limits set by time and by operating conditions to the amount of work that can be completed by ships’ staff, and some ship operators nowadays make use from time to time of the maintenance services offered by hatch cover manufacturers.
It is essential that hatch covers receive regular maintenance and the workload becomes much heavier as the ship reaches ‘middle age’. Work must be progressed whenever conditions permit, and this requires the chief mate to have a good understanding of the requirements for hatch maintenance.
It is impossible in a book such as this to foresee and to describe the precise maintenance requirements for the hatch covers of any particular ship, but certain advice can be offered and common problems can be described. MacGregor Navire state that the maintenance tools which they would like to see used most often are grease guns and brooms! If the hatch covers and coamings are swept free of cargo and other rubbish, and if the moving parts are properly greased, the hatch covers should give many years of good service.
Leakage in way of hatches can be caused by faulty hatch operation, damage to hatches, and excessive wear of components and neglect of maintenance.
Read More: GENERAL CARGO