Cargo stowage plan for general cargo ships




What is a cargo plan

A ship’s cargo plan shows the distribution as well as the disposition of all parcels of cargo aboard the vessel.The plan is formulated usually from the workbooks of the ‘deck officers’, a fair copy being produced before departure from the final port of loading. This allows copies of the plan to be made before the vessel sails.The copies are forwarded to agents at ports of discharge to allow the booking and reservation of labour, as appropriate.





It is important to plan in advance, both at the shore terminal and offshore to aid effective cargo securing. The objective of pre-planning is the safe and practical restraint of cargo carried on the deck of offshore support vessels so that personnel, ship and cargo may be reasonably protected at all stages of carriage, and during cargo operations offshore.

The cargo plan should include relevant details of cargoes, i.e. total quantity, description of package, bales, pallets etc., tonnage, port of discharge, identification marks and special features if and when separated.The port of discharge is normally ‘highlighted’ in one specific colour, reducing the likelihood of a parcel of cargo being overcarried to the next port. Cargoes which may have an optional port of discharge are often double-coloured to the requirements of both ports.

Additional information, such as the following, generally appears on most plans:

i) Name of the vessel.

ii) Name of the Master.

iii) List of loading ports.

iv) List of discharging ports, in order of call.

v) Sailing draughts.

vi) Tonnage load breakdown.

vii) Hatch tonnage breakdown.

viii) Voyage number.

ix) Total volume of empty space remaining.

x) List of dangerous cargo, if any.

xi) List of special cargo, if any.

xii) Statement of deadweight, fuel, stores,water etc.

xiii) Details of cargo separations.

xiv) Recommended temperatures for the carriage of various goods.

xv) Chief officer’s signature.


The plan provides at a glance the distribution of the cargo and shows possible access to it in the event of fire or the cargo shifting. Its most common function is to limit overcarriage and the possibility of short delivery at the port of discharge. It also allows cargo operations, stevedores, rigging equipment, lifting gear and so on to be organised without costly delays to the ship.

All cargo should be stowed having due regard to the order of discharge. When planning the position of cargo and the order of loading and unloading, the effects that these operations will have upon access and the safety of personnel should be considered. The following points should be taken into account:

i) cargo information, including gross mass of the cargo or cargo units and any special properties detailed on board or in the shipping documents, should be recorded and used in planning;

ii) wherever practicable, where more than one port is involved for loading or unloading, cargo should be loaded in layers rather than in tiers, so as to avoid the development of high vertical walls of cargo;

iii) care should be taken not to overstow lighter cargoes with heavier cargoes which may lead to a collapse of the stow;

iv) wherever practicable, cargo should be stowed so as to leave safe clearance behind the rungs of hold ladders and to allow safe access as may be necessary at sea;

v) the need to walk across or climb onto deck cargo, where this may involve an approach to an unprotected edge with risk of falling, should be minimised;

vi) care should be taken to avoid large gaps next to cargo where it is stacked against corrugated bulkheads.


Deck cargo should be stowed in accordance with the statutory regulations, and kept clear of hatch coamings to allow safe access. Access to safety equipment, fire fighting equipment (particularly fire hydrants) and sounding pipes should also be kept free. Any obstructions in the access way such as lashings or securing points should be painted white to make them more easily visible. Where this is impracticable and cargo is stowed against ship's rails or hatch coamings to such a height that the rails or coamings do not give effective protection to personnel from falling overboard or into the open hold, temporary fencing should be provided .



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