Shipping companies and owners of bulk carriers can now use a new database developed by Germanischer Lloyd to obtain comprehensive information about all requirements relating to the structural and equipment aspects in relation to the cargoes to be conveyed in each case. The new cargo compliance tool "PROTOS" (Provisions for Transportation of Solid Bulk Cargoes) was presented at the first Bulker Forum, which was attended by over 40 shipowners
and business partners.
PROTOS references all the statutory structural and equipment-related requirements applying to a bulk carrier for the envisaged cargo. In view of the approx. 60 different types of solid bulk cargoes, the requirements for ventilation and explosion-protection, for example, may differ considerably.
On the basis of a ship survey, the requirement catalogue of PROTOS and an examination of the ship documents, a so-called "Bulk Certificate" can be issued. The "Document of Compliance for the Carriage of Solid Bulk Cargoes" confirms that the ship meets the prerequisites for proper and safe transport. In addition, the "Bulk Certificate" contains a list of the cargo types that may be conveyed by the ship, a list with the cargo-specific annotations, and a list of the equipment-related requirements.
In his presentation, GL expert Friedo Holtermann underlined the customer-specific benefits offered by the new database. Thanks to the new system, the owner or shipping company is given a comprehensive certification, the transparency and consistency of which offers clarity and ease of examination for the approving authorities concerned with hazardous goods. In this way, the operators of bulk carriers can avoid delays in the cargo-handling process.
The certification of bulkers according to the Bulk Cargo Code of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is not yet mandatory on the international level. However, many states are already demanding a comparable certification through their national regulations. With a "Bulk Certificate" from Germanischer Lloyd, all the requirements for statutory approval are met.
A comprehensive overview of the current regulatory situation for bulk carriers was given by Sönke Pohl, Ship Type Manager at Germanischer Lloyd. Recent amendments to the international regulations of the IMO and the IACS, the umbrella organization of the classification societies, demand new design load calculations for bulk carriers. For example, the new Load Lines Convention prescribes greater reserve buoyancy in the forebody for bulker newbuildings. Since January 2005, a number of new technical design requirements apply to bulk carriers, e.g. increased strength and securing requirements for hatch covers. At present, 5977 bulkers with a cargo capacity of 289.5 million dwt are under way worldwide.