Did you know that one 10K barge has the capacity to hold 1500 tons? This is the equivalent of nearly 63,000 bushels or over 500,000 gallons of material.
This is an incredible feat of transportation. To keep all of the barges worldwide in check, barge inspection visits must take place. They happen with regularity to keep all parties involved safe, including the environment.
If you’re in control of a merchant ship operation or deck barge, boat inspection should be at the forefront of your mind. Passing ship inspection leads to improved ship safety and overall greater efficiency that helps to puff up your bottom line.
In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about a barge inspection.
What Is a Barge Inspection?
All equipment on a standard barge operating out of the United States will be subject to inspection by the United States Coast Guard or a certified Marine surveyor once per year.
These Marine surveyors will need to have at least five years of experience in commercial marine vessels before obtaining the position.
This means that all of the eyes looking at your ship are well-qualified. It’s important that you meet the Coast Guard recommendations and guidelines for passing inspection so that you don’t have any worries during your transportation operations.
If any inspection that takes place on the ship will need to be documented, and a copy of the report must be in a public area onboard the ship.
The inspection will include an evaluation of structural conditions on the ship. It should also include any equipment used for storage, navigation, or other purposes. It’s best practice for internal audits to periodically inspect a fleet of ships.
However, barge inspection by an external party provides the official documentation needed to avoid fines or worse. If any marine vessel is found to have unsafe elements of the inspection, it will be taken out of service. You will not be allowed to use the vessel until the problems have been corrected.
Before the inspection, the barge deck should be well organized with all equipment and materials not being used stored away. Every employee aboard the ship should know where all the safety equipment is onboard the barge.
This means that safety equipment stock checks should occur regularly. This way, necessary equipment is available to those on board in a time of need.
If there is any damage to safety equipment, it needs replacement promptly with new equipment or a temporary alternative.
Employees should also know every location of the openings and hatches on deck. This helps to prevent accidents on deck down the road.
The ship should maintain a disaster preparedness plan so that any harm to workers is mitigated in the event of a dangerous situation. This could include a hurricane, flood, tropical storm, or other form of inclement weather.
Also, employees need to know exactly when the conditions necessitate the barge to relocate to a safer area. This depends on the tide or river gauge readings in the area of navigation.
Most barges do not include a self-propelled system. There should be a plan to move the vessel using a separate self-propelled vessel like a tugboat.
This means that a pull boat or tugboat should always be available in the area of the barge in case it needs a relocation.
Additionally, crew members need to complete all required safety trainings. These should occur on a regular basis to keep their certifications up-to-date. These courses should cover barge safety and specific safety elements about their positions or roles on the barge.
There are certain types of equipment that needs to be available aboard a barge to pass an inspection report.
Fenders help to prevent damage and sparking. They also provide a safe area for workers who could become involved in a pinching situation that’s caused by floating equipment.
Axes or emergency cutting tools need sharpening and must be provided at otherwise inaccessible positions throughout the ship or its towing vessels. Similarly, signal devices need to be provided on all vessels to give signals needed to maintain proper navigation on the local waterways.
Emergency control systems need protection against accidental operation. However, they need to be also accessible in the case of an emergency. These include safety valves, alarms, and fire protection.
Electric lights need to be explosion-proof. This is especially true for lights used around gasoline or on oil barges. Anywhere there is a fire or explosion hazard, explosion-proof lights should take precedence.
General alarm systems need to include easy access for any passenger or crewman. They need to be able to access areas of the ship in which one person may be separated or out of sight from any other person.
A sufficient number of signaling devices must be present on the deck. They must interconnect strategically so that no individual is left stranded.
Passing a Barge Inspection
At the end of the day, passing a barge inspection simply requires knowledge in advance and a high degree of preparation. When you understand the types of dangerous situations that can occur on a barge, you know what steps you need to take to prepare.
Develop a checklist and prepare equipment and alarm systems. You also want to train employees for the worst possible events. If you can do these two tasks, you will be well prepared for ship inspection. If you’re interested in learning more about marine equipment and safety protocols, please contact us today.