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A-1 Marine is British Columbia's leading specialist for timber deck lashing testing and supply

Timber deck lashings: onboard testing

Since the introduction of stricter government regulations for deck lashings, there have been countless cases of vessels arriving in BC ports with components that are substandard or lacking the proper certification.   This causes significant problems for vessels, their owners and management companies.  There can also be commercial ramifications due to delays in shipment of cargo or cutting out deck cargo altogether, as well as possible off-hire claims.

The local shipping industry has worked hard over the years to raise awareness about the strict nature of the enforcement of lashing regulations.  Agents and stevedores advise every incoming vessel of the need to have everything in order. Despite that, there have been a large number of cases where ships come into port with substandard lashing gear, inadequate or totally missing tags, and poor (sometimes false) certification.  This includes older vessels, ships that have been in the forest product trade for a long time and even new buildings fresh from the shipyard.  Invariably, these deficiencies are detected, and then there is a rush to remedy the situation as soon as possible, so that  cargo operations can get back on track.

A-1 is the industry leader in testing and recertifying timber deck lashings.


Some very important things to bear in mind

  • A-1 Marine will not simply make new tags or issue new certificates without first thoroughly testing to the highest standards possible.  Similarly, we cannot supply blank tags to vessels.  Our corporate reputation depends on it.  

  • Other than the prescribed destructive tests that are required in order to establish breaking strength, batch testing is not permitted.  That means that every piece of lashing gear that is included on a certificate must be individually proof tested.

  • Sample testing is only permitted for destructive testing - proof load and Annex E tests. That means that  one piece of each size shackle, one turnbuckle, one snatch block, and three pieces of chain, 5 links long, each cut from a different chain must be tested.

    • If these samples pass the required tests, then proof testing of the rest of the gear may proceed.  

    • If the samples fail, then all similar components in the complete ship set are rejected and must be replaced.

  • All test results are reported to Transport Canada first, then to the vessel, agent, stevedores and principals.

  • All of A-1 Marine's load cells, in the shop and in the field, are frequently checked and calibrated by an independent authority.  Our load cells have the proven reputation of being the most accurate in the industry.

Initial inspections and tests

A-1 Marine has many years of expertise in dealing with these problems.  This is what we do:

  • First, we conduct a visual inspection of the lashing gear, checking the actual physical condition of the components, as well as proper tagging.

  • If the gear is clearly in poor condition, then replacement will be recommended. Reasons for failure include wear or corrosion in excess of 5%, breakage, deformity, seized shackle pins and seized snatch block sheaves.

  • Note: Over the course of the last 20 years, certain types of lashing gear have consistently failed Annex E testing requirements and are usually condemned on sight. This is based on the experience of hundreds of vessels calling at BC ports.  These are the most well-known examples:

    • 19mm chain will not pass the cold bend test in 99% of the cases

    • Old style turnbuckles with round bar pelican hooks will almost always fail at less than 50% of the required proof test load.

  • A visual inspection cannot determine the actual breaking strength of components. That can only determined by proof testing on a certified test bed.  

  • We examine all certificates in order ensure that they are authentic, in conformance with Canadian standards, and have proper tracking to each individual lashing component. All deck lashing certificates are valid for a maximum of four years from the date of testing. 

  • Based on the above steps, we determine the source of the problem and present a plan to address it.  It must be agreed upon with the Master, Agent and principals before proceeding.  The two most common options are as follows:

    • Recertification of existing gear.  This is a combination of in-house destructive testing and on-board proof testing.  Every component listed on a certificate must be individually proof-tested.  Batch testing is not permitted under Canadian regulations.​

    • Replacement of all deficient items with new materials.  Please click here to learn more.

Annex E Tests: cold bend and elongation

The first step in the recertification process is to undertake a series of destructive tests in order to establish the actual breaking strength of each component in the lashing system.  Lashing chains must also pass the so-called Annex E tests - elongation test and cold bend test.  All of these tests are carried out on our mobile test equipment, custom-built by A-1 Marine and approved for use by Transport Canada.  Please refer to our in-house testing webpage for details.

On board testing and tagging

Assuming that the initial destructive tests pass, then proof testing on the rest of the gear can proceed. Typically the items to test are chains, turnbuckles, shackles and snatch blocks. It is much more efficient and cost-effective to do this testing on board the ship.

  • Testing is usually done overnight in order to avoid conflict with any ongoing cargo operations.  In BC, logs are only loaded on dayshifts on account of safety reasons.

  • Chains are laid out lengthwise on the deck.  Shackles, turnbuckles and snatch blocks are connected together in "daisy chains" in order to proof test multiple items at a time.

  • It is essential that the ship's crew participate in setting out the lashing items for testing. This is arranged with the Master prior to the commencement of testing.  It is usually cost-prohibitive to have shore personnel lay out these materials on deck.

  • The pulling force for proof testing is provided by the ship's cranes.  Again, the cooperation of the crew may be required.

  • If everything is set up properly in advance, on board testing can usually be completed in one night.

  • Note: Due to the manner of usage, wire ropes are usually significantly damaged in the normal course of lashing.  Assuming that the vessel is regularly employed in the log trade, wires will require replacement well before the end of the four-year certification period.  Issues with wires are usually damage (wear, broken strands, kinking or unravelling), or improper test certificates - mill certificates on their own are not acceptable certification.  Therefore, we do not usually proof-test wires.

  • Tagging is done by the workers once all proof testing is complete.  New tags are always issued, and secured with 3/16" stainless steel aircraft wire and aluminum duplex sleeves.  These tags will stay secure for longer than the 4-year period of certification.

  • Once all the above operations are successfully completed, the final task is to issue a new certificate. This certificate is approved by Transport Canada and accepted around the world.  Original copies are signed and stamped by authorized A-1 personnel.

  • We will send copies of the certificates directly to Transport Canada and the stevedores, in order to expedite the commencement of cargo operations.  Original certificates will be given to the Master, with copies sent to the Agent and Principals.

Lashing Testing and Certification

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