The following post was one that I wrote for Maritime Community back in early December, 2009. Being as much of an issue today as it was back then.
Shipping bulk cargo wintertime in north Atlantic means that your cargo most likely will be exposed to severe weather conditions while crossing the open sea. What can you do in order to have maximum protection for your cargo? Sometimes a charter requirement to the ship is demanding the use of hatch cover tape. The reason for this is that the joint between the various sections in the outside hatch cover is where most of the leaks occur. This is considered being the weak point of the hatch. Most hatch covers on ships are folding type. It simply means that there are multiple sections in a hatch cover and when it opens it simply folds like a paper so the storing space required while open is minimum. The storing space for the open cover is usually in between the various hatch openings. While a hatch cover is open you can easy see the condition and also the type of joint it has between the each section. Usually they are overlapping and the bottom section comes with a fairly heavy-duty rubber gasket that receives the overlapping part of the other section. Additional to the weight of each hatch cover section there is also a mechanical securing. All sides and top has a mechanism called hatch cover cleats, that helps pulling it all together and securing it properly. Hatch cover tape has been around for many years and will most likely continue to be in demand for this particular use for many years to come. It is a very cheap insurance for your cargo and relative easy to install. Most ship crews are familiar with the application. Choosing the right type of tape for a particular application can sometimes be a problem. It is very important that the right hatch cover tape is chosen for your application. The side of the hatch should have a different tape from the one used on top. Sufficient use of heat when installing the tape makes for very good adhesion. For some tips on installation go to THIS article. Some additional tips can also be available by contacting the editor. Most of the major supply centers have this type of product available usually on relative short notice.