Marine insurer Gard said that over the years it had handled numerous cargo claims where condensation was found to be the contributory cause of cargo damage. When dealing with such claims, the voyage records of the hold ventilations play a central role in mitigating the claim.
Gard said that the need for ventilation arose when there was a potential for condensation to form within a cargo hold. This happened when the dewpoint temperature of the outside air was lower than that of the air inside the cargo hold. This could result in surface condensation. The only way to minimize or prevent moisture condensation inside the cargo hold was through proper ventilation.
While carrying out ventilation was important, so was maintaining accurate ventilation records.
While the ventilation helped prevent damage, accurate records assisted in defending a cargo claim. To defend against a claim in the event of moisture damage, the shipowner will have to provide evidence for each hold that proper ventilation was carried out by the crew. Depending on which ventilation rule is followed (dew point rule or 3 degrees rule), crew members should record the following at least once a watch:
- temperature of cargo during loading;
- dew point for outside air, along with dry and wet bulb temperatures;
- dew point for air each cargo hold, along with dry and wet bulb temperatures;
- whether ventilation needed (Y/N);
- seawater temperature;
- time for starting and suspending ventilation in each hold, including reasons for suspension; and bilge soundings.