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Before leaving this part of the subject, we must express our regret that so little has yet been done in the application of scientific principles in the stowage of merchant ships. The stevedore still does his work by Rule of Thumb, and the wonder is, not that so many, but that no more, fatal mistakes are made. In the Royal Navy, since the loss of the Captain, it has been the practice to ascertain the stability of every ship before she goes on her first voyage by inclining her, and the weights used, the distance they are moved through, the angle of inclination, and the load displacement of the ship are the data from which her metacentric height is obtained. We hope to see the day when this will be done with merchant ships, not merely before their first voyage, but whenever there is any doubt as to their stability. It need not be done with such exactness as in the Royal Navy, all that is required is a scale of displacement, such as most shipbuilders now furnish with a new ship, the moving of some known weight through a measured distance, and a record of the consequent heeling over of the ship, which might be measured by means of a plumb line from the mast-head.
We do not propose to say anything on the commercial advantages of water ballast, although we think that even now they are not fully recognised.* Till within recent years it has been the
In an able paper read before the Institution of Naval Architects two years ago, Mr. Martell, the Chief Surveyor of Lloyd's Registry, gives figures upon this subject, which must have been often forcibly brought home in the ex. perience of shipowners in the recent bad times. He says :—"I will take first a steamer built for the Mediterranean trade, and costing about £20,000. Sach a vessel will make, say, four voyages in a year. As a rule, she would load to a Mediterranean port, thence go in ballast to her grain-loading port in the Black Sea. This vessel would require about 200 tons of ballast, and assuming a moderate charge for dry ballast of 28. per ton, this would amount to £20, supposing 65 tons per day could be obtained; the detention caused in shipment, at the moderate charge of £25 per day, would be an additional £75, thus making £95. Bat on arrival at the loading port this ballast has to be discharged ; and, by using the steam winches of the vessel, a further expense, including craft hire of about 1s. per ton, or £10, is incurred, thus making £105. By allowing two days detention before the vessel is in a position to take cargo on board, which—especially in a foreign port where
custom to build for the water ballast what is really a tank, girders being attached to the floors of the ship to take the plating forming the apper surface. In some cases the tank has been ander the cargo-hold, sometimes under the engine-room, and in order that the stability of the ship should not be decreased by cargo being above the tank, vessels have been built in which the water ballast was carried in a short compartment extending nearly as high as the light water-line. The latter arrangement, however, has not found much favour. Recently a plan of ship construction has become common in which the arrangements for water ballast are utilized to impart strength to the ship, as has long been the case in the Royal Navy. Instead of the ordinary floor-plates there are longitudinal and also transverse plate-frames, an inner bottom being connected to them, and the space between the inner and outer bottom of the ship being available for water ballast. Messrs. Denny, of Dumbarton, have built a number of vessels on this plan, and on the east coast vessels also have been built in which the inner bottom is attached to the floors or other part of the frame of the ship.
Coming now to the second part of oar subject, we find that the Merchant Shipping Act of 1876 deals with the question of grain cargoes as follows:
“22. Grain Cargoes.-No cargo of which more than one-third consists of any kind of grain, corn, rice, paddy, pulse, seeds, nuts, or not-kernels, hereinafter referred to as "grain cargo,' shall be
craft have to be sought-is not too much to allow, this would increase the expenses to £155. Sappose, now, the steamer to be ordered on arrival, say, off Falmouth, to some port to discharge cargo from which an outward freight could not be obtained, the same process of ballasting, with its attendant expenses and detention, must again occur, as such a vessel, not being a regular liner, would have to proceed, in all probability, to a coal port. This additional cost, allowing 39. per ton on 200 tons for taking in and putting out ballast, would amount to £30, bringing up our expenses to £185; and, with three days' detention, being another £75, the total cost of expenses, at a moderate calculation, on one voyage would be £260. This taken on four similar voyages would amount to above £1,000 in the year on a capital of £20,000.”
carried on board any British ship unless such grain cargo be contained in bags, sacks, or barrels, or secured from shifting by boards, bulkheads, or otherwise.
“ If the managing owner of any British ship, or any agent of such owner who is charged with the loading of the ship or the sending her to sea knowingly allows any grain cargo, or part of grain cargo, to be shipped therein for carriage, contrary to the provisions of this section, he shall, for every such offence incar a penalty not exceeding three hundred pounds, to be recovered upon summary conviction."
When this clause was inserted in the Act, it was foreseen that great difficulty would stand in the way of its enforcement. It appears to be easy enough to fine any master or owner of a ship for not having shifting boards, the awkward point to decide is, what are efficient shifting boards, when the decision has to be come to after the ship has performed her voyage.
A ship may have very inefficient shifting boards, but yet, if the cargo has not shifted, it would be difficult to prove their inefficiency, and, on the other hand, if the cargo has shifted and the vessel has yet been brought into port in safety, through the skill of the shipmaster, it seems unjust to punish a man for want of skill and care, after his having successfully come out of difficulty and danger. At first something was done in the way of surveys, under the direction of British consuls at loading ports, it having been stated very positively, but erroneously, in 1875, that there had been no losses of grain-laden vessels from Canadian or American ports for two years, this period exactly coinciding with the date from which in those countries supervision had been exercised over the loading of sach vessels. Chiefly in consequence of this statement, arrangements were made in the latter part of 1875, by which British consuls were empowered to employ surveyors to inspect the loading of grain, and to report upon the subject to the Board of Trade.' It being considered that the stowage of grain cargoes is a subject on which the masters of ships should be as well informed as anyone else, and that, in all probability, any surveyors appointed by consuls abroad would be themselves shipmasters, and, moreover, could have no authority to detain an improperly laden ship, it is
not easy to see how any advantage could have been expected from this. It does not appear that any good resulted, and we believe the plan was very soon quietly dropped. It is now, unfortunately, too certain that grain-laden vessels from American ports, where the arrangements for stowage of cargo are inspected, have been lost, and now further legislation is asked to prevent altogether the carriage of grain in bulk. As to the nature of the inspection, we find, by referring to a Parliamentary paper on the subject, that in Canada there is a Government officer, called a Port Warden, who supervises the loading of grain, and directs the use of what dunnage and shifting boards he may consider necessary. In the United States the Government does not interfere in the case, but the underwriters employ surveyors. The New York Board of Underwriters, so long ago as 1860, considered the question, and issued a most admirable code of regulations, which we believe are substantially in force now.
The details of these rules are pretty well known to many of our readers, and we shall therefore merely say that they provide for dunnage, for proper lining, for the protection and clearing of pumps, for bulkheads, in the case of large vessels, and for shifting boards extending, when all the cargo is in bulk, from the deck to the keelson. A surveyor visits the ship and inspects all the details of the shifting boards, &c. Ships not insured by New York underwriters, are, of course, not surveyed by their agents, but we believe it is the case that every vessel insured is inspected by some sarveyor before she leaves an American port.
We think it is rash in the extreme to conclude that because ships have shifting boards which are surveyed, and yet are sometimes lost through the grain shifting, that shifting boards are useless, and therefore the law should compel all grain to be carried in bags. In the first place, is it certain that the shifting boards are always properly constructed ? From what is often said, one would suppose that they are merely intended to prevent a sudden shifting of cargo consequent upon a sudden lurch. Almost any shifting board will do this, but we think there is something further to be done, seeing that danger may, and does, result from the gradual flow of grain as well as from sudden movements. To prevent the slow flow of
grain, centre boards are of no use at all unless they extend from keelson to deck; they are of little use unless they are fairly tight. We fear that very few ships, even now, have shifting boards which are really grain tight; until this point is secured, it is prematare to say that grain cannot be carried safely in bulk. We think that the best solution of the difficulty in most steamers, would be the building in the ship of a permanent middle line bulkhead, with, perhaps, moveable parts below the hatches only. This would be useful to prevent the shifting of cargo other than grain, would not, in practice, be found to be very much in the way, and would, we believe, altogether cost much less than the frequently recurring charges for shifting boards. In iron ships, such a bulkhead might be so worked in as to impart strength, and allowances might be made in respect of it from other parts of the structure. The law with reference to grain cargoes does not absolutely insist upon shifting-boards ; either by using them or otherwise grain is to be prevented from shifting. This reminds us of the fact that many steamers have the boards when there is not the least necessity for them. We refer to the case where there is a trunk batch so large, as compared with the compartment of the hold below it, that it contains sufficient grain to make up for any possible amount of settling. An Act to compel grain to be carried in bags would be very unfair in its application to such cases where there is perfect safety with a cargo in bulk, even without shifting boards. In many vessels temporary arrangements for “feeders” are adopted, and it is certain that, with proper care, they can be made efficient.
We do not hope the discussion of the subject will lead to any legislation ; we do hope that it will lead to good in many other ways. There is one thing which is so obvious an evil that it hardly seems necessary to mention it, and that is, the imperfect trimming of the cargo. It is certain that all the vacant space over a grain cargo is not due to settling, much of it must be pat down to negligence in loading. We fear that in the modern anxiety of the steamship owner to keep his vessel going, the stowage of the cargo is often unduly hurried, the trimming of coals is scamped, the grain is not shovelled up in the wings, and other cargo is badly packed or imperfectly secured. The law, as