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Ships bunkering operation - planning, preparation, safety checks & confirmation

Ships bunker operation involve many hazards and careful consideration will need to be made for safe planning and execution.
On the 1st of January 2012 in accordance with MARPOL Annex VI, the global sulphur limit decreased from 4.50% to 3.50%. All fuel used after this date must contain sulphur levels below 3.5%. All bunkers supplied for use after 31 December 2011 must have a sulphur content below 3.5%. Do not commence bunkering until sulphur level has been confirmed.

We summarized here some basic check points for safe bunkering. These procedures are only indicative, not exhaustive in nature and one must always be guided by practices of good seamanship
Oil tanker at sea
Oil tanker at sea


1.Has the vessel have adequate space for the volume of the bunker to be bunkered? (it should be met with below safety margin)

90% under for each deep Tanks,

85% under for each double bottom tanks of FO tank capacity,

80% under of the final loading tank for double bottom tank as far as possible.

2. Has the order of tanks to be loaded been decided to make the heel and trim of the vessel during bunkering minimal?

3. Have the personnel positioning and work demarcation been clarified and entered in the list of personnel to engage in the FO/LO transfer work, and put up near the bunker station?

4. Has the Masters signature been obtained in above list?

5.Are FO/LO transfer work procedures and piping diagrams put up in the bunker station?

6.Have an onboard meeting on personnel positioning and work proceeding been held to have crew well know matters that required attention?

WAC requirement: When a vessel is engaged in bunkering at a port of Washington state, USA, following requirements should be covered.

WAC-1. Has the PIC been conducted a Training session before 48 hrs before schedule bunkering? Also has it recorded in Deck log book?

Cf) The training should be included Pre-loading plan, Civil/Criminal penalties and liabilities, Vessels oil Transfer procedure, English phrases hand signals for communication and Emergency shut down procedures.

WAC-2. Has the Pre-loading plan been prepared?

And has the plan been included followings?

Identification, location, capacity of tanks receiving oil

Level, type of liquid in each bunker tank prior to scheduled bunkering

Planned final ullage/innage, and planned final percent of each to be filled

Sequence for tanks to be filled

Procedures to monitor all bunker tank levels and valve alignments

Also is Pre-bunkering Plan copy posted at a place where the plan is easily seen by vessel personnel engaged in bunkering? ===================================


1.Are Valves and pipe lines marked for easy identification?

2.Are valve markings correct? (Have round covers on the floor plates in the machinery space been also confirmed?)

3.Are all deck scuppers effectively plugged? (Are wooden plugs, if any then cemented up?)

4.Has it been confirmed that no deficit, crack, corrosion, and the like exist on the pipe line to be used?

5.Have a leak test to the pipe line by an air pressure of 5 kg/cm2 or under been carried out? (To be entered the date of last testing in remark column )

6.Have operation of remote valves and level gauges used in bunkering been confirmed? And also accuracy of remote gauging system verified?(if fitted)

5.Is bilge line valves fully closed and secured?

6.Are all the pressure gauges to be used working satisfactorily?

7.Are all thermometers fitted in manifold working satisfactorily?

8.Alarm setting on overfill alarm accurate & operational?(if fitted)

=================================== WAC requirement: When a vessel is engaged in bunkering at a port of Washington state, USA, following requirements should be covered.

WAC-3. Are persons involved in bunkering operation are adequately rested?

Cf) The requirement shall be met with that Bunkering personal have not worked more than 15 hours in any 24-hours period and/or 36 hours in any 72-hours period

Also are records available demonstrating compliance with work hour restriction prepared?

WAC-4. Has the Pre-transfer conference been held with both PIC of receiving vessel and delivering vessel or facility?

And have following contents been discussed in the conference?

Contents of the declaration of inspection

Procedure for repaying topping off information

Emergency shut-down procedures and identified each vessels mean to shut down?

And is it recorded that Pre-transfer conference held in the Log book? ===================================


Has bunker requisition form given by supplier had all information? (Specific gravity, Sulfur Content, Viscosity, Grade and Quantity etc.)

Has the commence of the bunkering been notified to the watch keeping personnel in Deck department and announced on board?

Is there any leakage from the hose connection?

Is there any leakage from the bunkering-related line and valves?

Has oil flow through the planned line been confirmed by listening to with the ear on the pipe?

Is oil flowing into the prescribed tank? (Confirm the inflow by air blow, inflow noise, level change, and so on).

Check the respective tank sounding manually and confirm.

Has air blow through an air vent for the tank into which oil is to be supplied been confirmed?

Is not there any change in level in the other tanks?

Is continuous measurement kept until the inflow to the prescribed tank and the inflow rate are confirmed?

Is oil supply rate proper?

Has the time when the bunkering started been recorded?


1. When valves were changed over, has it been confirmed not only by the indication on the remote control board but also on the spot (if possible)?

2. Has oil inflow to the planned tanks been confirmed?

3.Has air blow from air pipes been confirmed?

4.Is not there any change in level in the other tanks?

Pre-bunker exchange of information between responsible persons on Ship & Barge/Facility:"

1.Have the following matters been confirmed with the oil supplier?

- Oil qualities including type of oil, viscosity, density,

sulfur content and oil temperature, volume & H2S presence as per MSDS.

- Pumping rate agreed (The rate to be slow at the beginning of supply in particular).

- Mutual communication means and communication method in an emergency.

- Emergency shutdown procedures.

- Sampling method and the destination of the retained sample.

- Presence / absence of local rules on oil leakage prevention.

- Name of a responsible person and personnel arrangement of the terminal.

2.Have confirmation letters for oil leakage prevention been exchanged with the oil supplier? exchanged with the oil supplier? (Applicable in Japan)

3. Have the Declaration of Inspection been properly filled in and signed after confirmation by the vessel and oil supplier? (Applicable in United States) and signed after confirmation by the vessel and oil supplier? (Applicable in United States)


1. Are portable fire hoses & fire-fighting equipment on Barge/Facility and ship are ready for immediate use.

2.Are materials for containment and oil spill clean-up arrangement readily available for immediate use?

(saw dust, oil absorbent, and oil-treating agent)

3.Are the valves for the manifolds not in use (of the other side in particular) fully closed, and manifolds properly blanked?

4. Are all the air vents of all tanks to be bunkered in good working condition and free from any restriction?

5.Are drain plugs set to save all trays securely?

6.Is there any sharp bend of the hose? Is weight of hose adequately supported so that hose weight should not come on hose itself?

7.Is the transfer hose properly rigged and fully bolted with all bolts of correct size and length?

8. Is electric power supply to the FO/LO/DO pumps shut, and is an indication On Bunkering. 'Do not Use posted?'

9.Have open/close position of valves been confirmed according to the check list (prepared by the vessel)? Has closure of all valves isolated from the bunkering been confirmed?

10.Overboard valves connected to engine room bilges and bunker lines are closed and sealed?

11.Are necessary signal flags and lights indicated?

12. Is the lighting equipment for night work proper?

13. Has the Supply Barge/Facility have adequate volume of oil to be supplied? (Confirm by Barge/Facilitys Tanks Sounding)

14. Are oil fences extended? (If it is required).

15.Are all personnel for the work in their positions?

16. Has it been confirmed by a communication test that the communication means is properly secured?

17. Are communication means with each part of the vessel secured?

18.Has a communication test been made between the bunker station and the hose connection monitor?

19.Is the sampling container fitted at point of transfer of Custody (Ships Manifold)?

Is the sampling container sealed properly and have adequate space to collect required amount of sample?

20. All cargo and bunker tank hatch lids are closed?

21. Has MSDS for the bunker to be transferred been exchanged when requested?

22. The Hazards associated with Toxic substances in the bunkers being handled have been identified and understood? H2S contents:____ Benzene Contents: ____

23. Are safe means of access provided between ship and Supply Barge or Facility?

24. Are all external doors and port holes in accommodation are closed?

25. Is smoking area identified & restrictions are observed?

26. Are all scupper plugs in place? Temporarily removed scuppers plugs will be monitored at all times?

27. Drip trays are in positing on decks around connection and bunker tank vents? Are all the save all trays around the air vents clean and free from oil?

Cf) Air vent openings should be provided with an oil pan, which depth is 18 or more, capacity: 5 U.S. gallon (about 19 L)or more, if a fixed pan is not fitted.

28.Is the barge/ship properly moored and secured?

29.Is a means of communication have established between the responsible officers on the vessel and the barge/Facility via VHF/UHF CH. Primary:______Back up:______?

Emergency stop signal: established between both parties

30. Is there any floating oil on the surface of the sea near the vessel?

31. Are sea and weather conditions suitable for the bunkering work?

32. All bunker tanks sounding to be checked manually and recorded @ an interval of not exceeding 30 mins

33. There is an effective watch on board the barge and on the ship receiving bunkers? (a man should be always placed at manifold)

34. Naked light regulations are being observed?


Has the oil flow rate been dropped by notifying before the end of the bunkering?

Has air blow through of the line been carried out very carefully taking tank overloading into consideration?

Has remained oil in the line been removed completely?

Has the manifold gate valve been closed with the Chief Engineers permission?

Has remained oil in the line outside of gate valve been removed completely?

Cf.) It is prohibited to open the gate valve to remove remained oil without Chief Engineers permission.

Has the tanks been sounded manually and confirmed the correct receipt of ordered quantity.

Have the tanks been sounded, and has the refueled volume been confirmed by the vessel side?

Have the all sample been confirmed, including the sealing?

Cf.) Samples included, MARPOL sample, Retained sample, Sample for Analysis, for the vessel, Retained sample by supplier

Have the indication of sample been confirmed on labels? Such as the date, port name, type of oil, quantity, name of the barge/jetty or the supplier, and the signature of both the parties.

Have blind plate been securely fitted?

Have oil fences been stored (if extended)?

Has Bunker delivery note received have all the necessary information

Have fire extinguishers and materials for outflow oil prevention and removal been returned to their storing positions?

Have bunker barges left the vessel?

Have signal flags been lowered?

Has the completion of the bunkering work been announced on board the vessel?

Have scupper plugs been removed and stored?

Has the refueling line been restored to the normal conditions for the vessels use?

Has the setting of FO/LO/DO transfer pumps been returned to the automatic mode?

Additionally for Tankers & Gas carriers:

Are Main Radio transmitters earthed and Radar switched off?

Are VHF / UHF transceiver and AIS changed over to correct (Lower) power mode or switched off?

Is the oil flow pressure (oil supply volume) proper?

Is the flow rate to the sampling container being properly adjusted so that sampling will continue till the time bunkering ends?

If the vessel is provided with remote gauges, is the gauge board being monitored all the time?

Is not there any change in level in the other tanks?

Is not there any abnormality in trim and heel of the vessel?

Bunker barges at Port klang anchorage

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