In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the Club notes, "Standard container operation in many terminals involves the ship's semi- or fully automatic twistlocks being fitted to or removed from containers by stevedores on the quayside. These twistlocks are often stored in steel 'gear bins' which are themselves stowed on flat racks that are lifted off and on the ship by shore cranes.
"The flat racks are landed ashore just before discharge commences and the bins are filled with the twistlocks removed from the containers as they are discharged. As containers are loaded, twistlocks are then removed from the bins and fitted into those containers. On completion of cargo work, the bins, which will contain any unused twistlocks, are placed back on the flat racks and then lifted on board, where they are routinely stowed on top of stacks in positions that are inaccessible to the crew.
"In one recent incident, a port safety officer allowed flat racks to be returned onboard only on condition that the bins were first emptied of twistlocks. In some cases it is thought the equipment falls outside the inspection regimes of flag state, class or port state control and, due to its often remote stowage position, an 'Out of Sight Out of Mind' philosophy can develop on board.
"Accordingly, owners should ensure that the equipment is incorporated into a planned maintenance system and, if necessary, be the subject of regular third-party inspections."