This may occur particularly in the case of cargo such as grain for example, where individual grains start to sink during the course of a voyage, resulting in air being forced out and creating a gap between the top of the cargo and the hatch cover, which in turn causes the cargo to move about as the ship rolls and pitches. 2 A ship is then subjected to the danger of capsizing, and the large hatchways in bulk cargo carriers which are provided to enable efficiency in the handling of cargo, can result in flooding that may potentially sink the ship.In recent years, dry bulk carriers have been associated with increased risks of structural failures that are catastrophic – for example, ships carrying heavy cargoes of iron ore or steel scrap are more susceptible, as are older carriers, and ships with trading routes in the Far East3. This is due to fatigue cracks that may develop in the hold of the ship over a period of time of continuous cargo transportation. Enhanced safety measures in regard to the design of the ship and other aspects, may be necessary to reduce causalities. The corrosion of steelwork and fatigue cracks are two of the greatest dangers in aging ships. Due to cracking that takes place due to corrosion and fatigue cracking, the result may be water entering into the holds, so that the trim is altered and large quantities of water may enter in and sink the ship.This was precisely what occurred in the year 1991, when 24 bulk carriers sank, as a result of which 154 crew and personnel aboard the ship were killed. In assessing the reasons for the sinking of the ships, the American Shipping Association concluded that the losses were “directly traceable to the failure of the cargo hold structure” which were subject to corrosion, cracking and operational damages.4 Hence, periodic checking of older ships for fatigue cracks and damages caused by corrosion and operational procedures must be carried out, with repairs and restoration being instituted as necessary.Proper and correct loading of the ship is necessary to ensure that the cargo is evenly balanced on the ship.

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