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Cargo shifted during heavy weather

What happened

Cargo broke loose in heavy seas on a vessel in transit. Moderate to heavy rolling caused strapping holding stacks of cargo (metal beams) to break, causing the stacks to collapse.  Seven stacks collapsed or shifted, and a further three stacks moved to a lesser degree.  There was no structural damage to the vessel or to other cargo.  The vessel altered course and the collapsed / shifted stacks were re-secured with extra chain lashings.

Showing stacks of beams having shifted
1) beams tied with thin metal ties, 2) broken metal ties, 3) metal-metal contact, 4) Beams shifted after rolling


  • The vessel was transiting at 16 knots following a route recommended by a respected weather information service provider. Winds Force 5-6, Swells 5/6, rolling moderately to heavily at times;
  • There was adequate warning (at least two days) of the impending heavy weather; there had been a Bridge Team Meeting before departure at which impending weather was discussed;
  • A “heavy weather checklist” had been filled and precautions taken; lashing checks were carried out daily after departure and lashings tightened as required;
  • No timber blocks were placed between/around the stacks to make them a unified block to ensure less possibility of movement. Also, the cargo was loaded on just two wooden blocks which were part of the stack and directly on deck. 

What was the cause?

Our member noted the following:

  • Immediate cause
    • The beam stacks (each over 9000kg and length: 4.5 m x width: 1.7 m x height: 1.9 m) were not loaded or lashed as per the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (CSS code) for such cargo;
  •   Causal factors
    • Inadequate communication – there was ineffective communication between vessel and charterers;
    • Inadequate supervision – there was misjudgement of vessel movement and external force (wind, wave, and swells),
    • Lack of experience in loading / lashing such type of cargo at the Port of Loading.


  • Further training on proper/effective lashing and securing of cargo;
  • Discussion end education on need for vigilance and close supervision when loading;
  • Additional lashings to be in place in certain weather conditions.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 10 February 2022
Download: IMCA SF 04/22

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