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Section I. Loading and Unloading Facilities


Piers and wharves are permanent structures built in protected harbors. They are built using timber, concrete, or steel. Petroleum base terminals in developed theaters have piers (Figure 4-1) or wharves equipped to load and unload tankers and barges. Piers or wharves may have single-length berths or multiple-length berths. A single-length berth (Figure 4-2) is 60 to 80 feet longer than the largest tanker that uses it. A multiple-length berth (Figure 4-3) should be 110 to 130 feet longer than the combined lengths of the largest tankers that use it. No vessel should be allowed to dock or moor within 50 feet of a vessel that is unloading bulk cargo, unless the depot officer or supervisor and the master of the vessel transferring cargo agree.

Figure 4-1. Pier at petroleum based terminal

Figure 4-2. Single-length berth

Figure 4-3. Multiple-length berth


Piers and wharves at base terminals are equipped with ship-to-shore hoselines; standard 4-, 6-, 8-, or 12-inch pipelines; a loading and unloading manifold; valves; and fittings. Booster pump stations are installed where needed. Each facility should have at least one ballast tank with separate pipelines to receive and discharge water and an oil and water separator to remove product from ballast water during a transfer. A supply of water (preferably fresh water) and fire-fighting equipment must be available at all times. The equipment should include fire hoses, foam generators, and foam and carbon dioxide fire extinguishers. If there is a source of steam, it can be used to fight a fire in a confined space, such as a tanker compartment. Also, all piers and wharves must have the proper grounding connections for fuel transfer operations.


Existing loading and unloading facilities in a developed theater may also require self-elevating piers and pipeline jetties. These are available through the Army Facilities Components System described in TMs 5-301-1, 5-301-2, 5-301- 3, and 5-301-4. The self-elevating pier and pipeline jetty are described below.

Self-Elevating Pier

A self-elevating pier (Figure 4-4) is a steel barge which must be towed into place. It has jacks, caissons, and machinery that raise the pier above the water to form a working platform. Depending upon navigable conditions at the erection site, self-elevating pier may be employed as single piers butted against a beach or as finger, marginal, T-head, or L-head piers. TM 55-500 discusses this pier in detail.

Figure 4-4. Self-elevating pier

Pipeline Jetty

A pipeline jetty (Figure 4-5) is a structure made of pilings and timber that extends as far as 1,000 feet from the shore. It is only wide enough to support pipelines and to provide a walkway with a 40- by 70-foot working platform at the tanker end. The pipeline jetties are used in protected harbors to transfer fuel.

Figure 4-5. Pipeline jetty


The TPT is the Army's bulk-fuel storage facility. It is a fuel-handling system designed to receive, store, and issue bulk petroleum fuels, specifically diesel fuel and jet fuels. The TPT serves as a base terminal in an undeveloped theater and can be used in the developed theater to supplement existing facilities that are inadequate or damaged. For more information see Chapter 6.


A Navy system that uses a tanker, which is anchored up to 4 miles offshore, and underwater hoselines to off-load commercial tankers and deliver fuel to the high-water mark in an undeveloped theater. For more information see Chapter 5.

Section II. Tank Vessels


Tankers move large bulk petroleum cargo with speed and safety. Petroleum base terminals should be able to receive tankers that are at least 600 feet long with a draft of 35 feet. Tankers and their equipment are described below.

Cargo Space

Most of a tanker hull is used to carry liquid cargo. Cargo space varies among different types of tankers. Cargo space is divided into tank compartments by bulkheads which run the length and width of the tanker. The tank compartment is usually separated from fore and aft sections of the tanker by narrow, empty, liquid-tight compartments called cofferdams. Each tank compartment has a hatch and liquid-tight hatch cover. An-ullage sounding hole with a hinged cover is usually in each hatch cover. Tank compartments may have heating coils for heating cargo of heavy oil to viscosities suitable for pumping.

Vent Lines

Vent lines are usually between each tank and hatch. At the hatch, the vent lines connect to headers. The headers extend up the masts and have flame arresters at the top. Vapors caused by agitation or high temperature of product are vented through these lines. Each vent line is fitted with a vacuum relief valve. When vapors condense in the tank because of low temperature, the relief valve permits intake of air to relieve any vacuum created.

Pipeline and Pumping Systems

A complex cargo line system controls product flow during loading and discharging and while the vessel is under way. Tank farm pumps or booster pumps are normally used to load tankers. Tankers usually have cargo pumps for pumping cargo ashore through the pipeline. Some tankers also have stripping systems used to strip the tanks dry of ballast.

Fire-Fighting Equipment

Tanker fire-fighting equipment for the deck includes fire hoses, axes, buckets, and hand fire extinguishers. There may be a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher system for protecting fireroom bilges and electrical machinery. Most tankers also have a steam smothering system that can be used to fight fires. The main line of this system connects to the ship's auxiliary steam line through the master valve in the boiler room. It runs forward along the deck with a branch for each fuel and cargo tank and cofferdam. Branch lines also run to the forward holds, the pump room, and other areas.


Military liquid-cargo barges are steel watercraft. They move bulk petroleum products. Some are made for short distance hauls in harbor, coastal, or inland waters. Others are made for self delivery to an overseas destination and are self-sustaining for extended periods of operation. Barges have no propelling machinery; therefore, they require the services of a tug to move. A small tug is used for harbors and inland waterways while a large tug is used for coastal and intertheater missions.

Pumps and Piping Systems

Some barges require off-vessel equipment for discharging cargo, while other have their own equipment. Self-discharging vessels generally use electrically powered rotary pumps. The pumps are usually below the deck in the aft section or midship section. As a fire precaution, the pump room is completely insulated from the cargo and its gases. The piping systems on barges vary widely. There may be several pipelines, depending on the number of products carried. Vessels carrying light oils usually have pipelines with bellmouthed fittings. These fittings extend almost to the tank bottom. A stripper line, extending until it is almost flush with the tank bottom, is used to pump any oil left at the bottom of the tank. Vessels carrying heavy fuel oils and asphalts are usually equipped with 12- to 16- inch pumps and suitable pipelines.

Types of Barges

The military has 225-barrel-capacity and 4,160-barrel-capacity steel hull barges in its inventory. They are described below.

The 225-barrel Steel Barge

The barge (Figure 4-6) can carry limited quantities of liquid (225 barrels) or dry cargo (21 long tons) about harbors or inland waterways. Although this barge can carry limited quantities of liquid cargo, it does not have integral liquid-cargo pumps. It has an overall length of 45 feet 6 inches, an 18-foot 6-inch beam, and a molded depth of 3 feet. It has a displacement of 33 long tons loaded and a maximum draft of 1 foot 8 inches loaded. This barge consists of two sections joined end-to-end. The military has limited quantities of this barge remaining in its inventory. It is not considered a bulk transporter because of the limited capacity and the lack of integral pumping capability.

Figure 4-6. Steel barge with a 225-barrel or 21-ton capacity

The 4,160-Barrel Steel Barge

This barge (Figure 4-7) can carry 4,160 barrels of bulk liquid cargo or 578 long tons of dry cargo. The barge has an overall length of 120 feet, a 33-foot beam, and a molded depth of 10 feet 6 inches. It has an integral diesel-engine driven, liquid-cargo pump to receive and discharge liquid cargo.

Figure 4-7. Steel barge with a 4,160-barrel or 578-ton capacity


Sometimes tank barges are used for temporary storage of bulk petroleum products. However, the main uses for barges include the following:

  • Delivering fuel to and from shore terminals and moored oceangoing vessels which are limited by the depth of water.
  • Topping off partially loaded ocean tankers when docking the tanker would be too expensive or impossible because of the tide, wind, or depth of water.
  • Delivering bulk shipments of gasoline and lubricating oils in refueling operations at harbors and on rivers.
  • Removing oil sludge from the tanks of tankers and delivering it to shore tanks.
  • Moving petroleum products when it is cheaper to do so by water than by tank car.

Fire-Fighting Equipment

Fire-fighting equipment for the deck includes fire hoses, axes, buckets, and hand fire extinguishers. Most vessels have fire pumps and carbon dioxide for fires below deck. Pressure and flow are controlled by a master valve. In case of fire, carbon dioxide is fed into the cargo tank to smother the flames. Some modern vessels have an inert gas system fitted to the liquid-cargo tanks. This system provides a positive gas pressure to the cargo tank. The gas is so deficient in oxygen that it renders the atmosphere in the liquid cargo tanks incapable of supporting combustion.

Section III. Loading and Unloading Operations


Commanders of commercial tank vessels and commanding officers of military tank vessels are responsible for the loading plans for their vessels. Their decisions are final concerning the cargo layout. Petroleum shore inspectors inspect all vessel tanks and pipeline systems before loading. Their decisions on quality control of product are final. The inspectors review the loading plans and consider bulkheads, lines, tank capacities, and trim. In the case of split cargo, the inspectors must ensure that the vessel is physically able to carry two or more grades of products without contamination. The inspectors make sure that bulkheads are secure and that there are double valves or line blanks to separate and to protect each system. If valves are used they must be lashed and sealed in the proper position and the seal numbers must be placed on the shipping document. Shore operators must make sure that precautions are taken against fire, product contamination, and safety hazards. All loading plans must be coordinated between the ship's officer and the responsible shore authority. Shore attendants should know loading terms and factors governing vessel loading and unloading.


Below are the various types of data used to describe the loading capacity of a vessel.

  • Gross Tonnage. Gross tonnage is the total internal cubic capacity of a vessel less exempted spaces, such as tanks for ballast water. This weight is expressed in units of 100 cubic feet per ton.
  • Net Tonnage. Net tonnage is the registered tonnage of a ship after deductions have been made from the gross tonnage. Examples of deductions are crew and navigation spaces.
  • Light Displacement. Light displacement is the weight of the vessel. This does not include the weight of cargo, passengers, fuel, water, stores, and other items that are needed on a voyage.
  • Loaded Displacement. Loaded displacement is the total weight of the vessel. This includes the weight of cargo, passengers, fuel, water, stores, and other items that are needed on a voyage.
  • Deadweight Tonnage. Deadweight tonnage is the carrying capacity of a vessel in long tons. It is the difference between light and loaded displacement.
  • Cargo Deadweight Tonnage. Cargo deadweight tonnage is the number of long tons left after the weight of fuel, water, stores, and other items needed on a voyage has been deducted from the total deadweight of the vessel.
  • Barrel Capacity. Barrel capacity is the volume of cargo expressed in US barrels. A US barrel equals 42 gallons.
  • Load Line. The load line is the line that shows the maximum mean draft to which a vessel may be lawfully submerged. It is the lower limit of the freeboard for different conditions and seasons. Freeboard is the vertical distance amidships from the upper edge of the deck line to the upper edge of the load line. Load lines, set by proper authority, must be permanently and clearly marked on the vessel next to the load lines (Figure 4-8). The disk must be amidships below the deck line. The authority responsible for assigning load lines may be shown by letters, such as A-B for American Bureau of Shipping, alongside the disk and above the centerline. International load line certificates, issued by the Coast Guard, certify that the load line is correct. The horizontal lines mark the maximum load line for different conditions and different seasons.

Figure 4-8. Load-line markings

  • Draft. Draft is the depth of water a vessel draws. Draft marks are painted on either side of the bow and stern of a vessel. They show the depth to which the bow and stern are in the water. The draft marks, along with the immersion scale, show how many tons of cargo are required to immerse the vessel 1 inch at any draft according to the deadweight scale on the vessel's plan.
  • Trim. Trim is the difference between the bow draft and stern draft of a vessel. To trim a vessel is to arrange the cargo weights to get the desired bow and stern drafts. Trim tables, based on inch trim movement formulas, may be used to determine how weight distribution affects the draft and trim of a loaded vessel. The number of tons needed in any compartment to alter the trim of a vessel 1 inch can be found in these tables.
  • Sag. A vessel sags when the middle of its structure sinks below the bow and stern (Figure 4-9). A loaded tank vessel tends to sag due to the weight of the cargo in the tank section. It is most noticeable midship. Sagging may cause excess stress if the weight is concentrated in the midship cargo tank section. Since sag reduces freeboard, the amount of cargo that can be carried is reduced. Sagging can be reduced if more weight is put in the end tanks and less weight is put in the center tanks. Weight should not be concentrated in any one section even while tanks are being loaded.
  • Hog. A vessel hogs when the bow and stern are lower than the midship section (Figure 4-9). An empty vessel tends to hog because the bow and stern sections weigh more than the midship. Hogging causes the center of the vessel to carry most of the stress. Hogging can be avoided with proper loading and ballasting. Tables supplied with each vessel can be used to determine bow-to-stern stress while the vessel is being loaded and ballasted.

Figure 4-9. Sagging and hogging of vessels


A number of factors need to be considered by personnel loading a vessel. Some of these factors are given below.

Ballast Layout

The amount and distribution of ballast contribute to the seaworthiness, control, and trim of a tanker. Ballast also controls stress vibration in the hull caused by poor weight distribution. The master of a vessel must select ballast tanks that will distribute weight evenly through the hull. At the same time, the tank cleaning and inspection schedules and the effects of tank corrosion must be considered. If different ballast tanks are used on each voyage, tank corrosion is slowed down and tank life is increased.

Maximum Tonnage

Loading above load lines is a safety hazard. Therefore, load weights must be calculated accurately. The steps for calculating maximum tonnage are as follows:

  • The load line to which a vessel can be safely loaded under summer, tropical, fresh water, or other conditions is determined.
  • If a vessel is being loaded in water that may be of a variable specific gravity, the gravity is checked with a hydrometer. The vessel's allowance is checked in tables provided with the vessel.
  • Cargo deadweight tonnage is determined by deducting the total weight of the fuel, water (excluding the water in the boilers), stores, and other items needed on the vessel from the vessel's deadweight tonnage. This quantity, in long tons, is the maximum allowable weight that can be carried. The weight of the scheduled cargo should not exceed this amount.
  • The space the scheduled cargo will use in proportion to the weight allowed is then calculated. This is done by referring to tables and using the gravity of the scheduled cargo and the number of barrels per long ton. Available cargo space then must be checked to make sure that the vessel can hold the scheduled cargo.
  • Space is then allowed for cargo expansion. This is done in case the vessel enters regions where the temperature is higher than that of the product at the loading port. Tables provided with the vessel are used to determine the cargo expansion allowance.

Cargo Layout

The master of a vessel and the shore petroleum inspector consider weight distribution factors when they plan the cargo layout so that the cargo is not contaminated by the mixing of one product with another. There is little chance of this problem on a tanker carrying only one product.


There are many steps that must be taken before a ship is loaded or unloaded. They are described below.

Preparing Orders

Before a tank vessel docks, the shore terminal command posts written operation orders so that the shore operators can prepare for loading or unloading the vessel. The information that must be shown on the orders includes the following:

  • Estimated time of arrival.
  • Kind and amount of petroleum product to be loaded or unloaded.
  • Type of vessel.
  • Berth to be used.
  • Pipelines to be used.
  • Number and size of hoses to be connected.
  • Tanks into which cargo is to be received.
  • Pump stations and pumps to be used.
  • Tank and cargo layout.
  • Number of samples to be taken and the location to which samples are to be sent.
  • Tests required.
  • Ballast carried or required at the terminal.
  • Location of blends, if used.
  • Line cleaning or displacement.
  • Pumping facilities aboard the vessel.
  • Turnaround time.
  • Any special services or unusual requirements, such as blending of FSI, additional lighting, or use of spill booms.

Notifying Customs and Health Authorities

If a vessel is arriving from a foreign port, customs authorities must be notified so that the cargo can be declared and the vessel can be inspected. The Public Health Service must be notified so that the crew can be examined.

Arranging for Dock Personnel, Tugboats, and Pilots

There should be enough shore personnel at their stations to help moor or undock and load or unload the vessel. The vessel's personnel are responsible for the safe docking of the vessel, but the shore personnel must help. Arrangements must be made for tugboats and required pilots, when necessary. All personnel concerned with the operation should be told of the grade of product and the tanks being used.

Inspecting Hose

Shore personnel must inspect all connecting hoses for condition and suitability. Cargo hoses should be inspected and maintained according to Chapter 10. Any cracked, worn, or frayed hose must be replaced. A contaminated hose should be cleaned or replaced, depending on the contamination and the product to be handled. There should be enough hose to allow for slack to take care of tide changes, weather, or layout. Too much hose may cut down product flow.

Providing Sufficient Product, Tankage, and Ballast

When the vessel takes on products, there must be enough product in the shore tanks. If the vessel must unload products, there must be enough shore tankage to handle them. Shore tanks must be gaged by shore personnel. A ship's representative may witness the gaging. Enough ballast water tankage also should be provided.

Preparing Dock

All needed tools and equipment should be readily available before the vessel arrives. Items that should be included are listed below:

  • Skiff
  • Sampling equipment and sample containers.
  • Containers to catch overflows or spills.
  • Winches.
  • Bolts.
  • Gaskets.
  • Spool pieces.
  • Couplings.
  • Clamps.
  • Pressure gage.
  • Sufficient quantity of inch rope.
  • Block and tackle.
  • Explosion-proof flashlights.
  • Thermometers.
  • Gaging equipment.
  • Ladder.

Preparing for Safety

Safety equipment should also be available. These include the following:

  • Life preservers.
  • Throwable ring with line.
  • Fire-fighting equipment.
  • First aid kit.
  • Stokes basket or equivalent stretcher.

Preparing to Deal With Spills

Plans for preventing, controlling, and cleaning up spills are required. The SPCC plan is a federally required document. It covers all aspects of facility-wide spill response. The ISCP is the site-specific plan for responding to a spill. It must be included in the facility-wide SPCCP to meet legal requirements. All personnel involved in loading and unloading operations must have had all spill response training in accordance with these plans. Specific personnel must perform certain specialized functions including command and control, as well as all other spill response team functions. All spill team personnel must take part in periodic spill response team drills, in accordance with these plans. A spill of oil is reportable if it creates a sheen on the navigable waters of the United States, or if it otherwise meets certain local quantity criteria. The term navigable waters is quite broad. It may include whether it will create a sheen in storm-water runoff into a nearby stream the next time it rains. If a spill is confined so that it may reasonably be expected not to affect the navigable waters of the United States, it may still be reportable dependent upon the amount involved in accordance with specific permit provisions, and other local, state, and federal requirements. Failure to report oil spills in a proper and timely manner is a criminal offense. It is important that all oil spills be reported immediately up the chain of command. It must be done without any delay whatsoever except for those required for personnel safety. At the appropriate level in the chain of command, the environmental compliance officer shall be notified so that proper, timely notification of the Coast Guard National Spill Response Center, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other local, state, or host-nation regulatory officials may take place. The following information will be required in all spill reports.

  • Name of the facility.
  • Name(s) of the owner or operator of the facility.
  • Location of the facility.
  • The nature of the spill. This includes the exact type of petroleum product, the amount spilled, and any terrain feature that may present a problem (such as drainage ditches, canyon, or bluff). Also include how close the spill is to streams, wetlands, endangered species, or other environmentally sensitive items.
  • The present status of the deployment of the Army's spill containment and radiation team. If the team has not arrived, give the expected arrival time. Decide if other teams are needed.
  • Weather conditions.
  • Name of the Army's OSC for the cleanup of the spill and a phone number than he can be reached at all times.
  • Date and year of initial facility operation.
  • Maximum storage or handling capacity of the facility and normal daily throughput.
  • Description of the facility, including maps, flow diagrams, and topographic maps.
  • A complete copy of the SPCCP with any amendments.
  • The cause(s) of such spills, including a failure analysis of the system or subsystem in which the failure occurred.
  • The corrective actions and/or countermeasures taken. This includes a description of equipment repairs and/or replacements, and the cost.
  • Other preventive measures taken or planned to keep another spill from occurring.
  • If the above information is unavailable, it must not delay the immediate reporting of the spill as soon as possible.
  • Other information, as the EPA may reasonably require, pertinent to the plan or spill event.

Designating and Inspecting Facilities

Shore tanks, pump stations, and pumps should be marked order in which they are to be used. All valves, except dock valves, to be used during loading or unloading operations must be opened until the lines are filled. After the lines are packed, the valves must be closed. Then, tanks should be inspected, gaged, and checked for water. All valves must work and must not leak. If blinds are needed, their location should be in the written order.

Sampling Product

Product in shore tanks scheduled to receive product must be sampled and tested as prescribed in the updated MIL-HDBK-200. Product carried by the vessel also must be sampled and tested. It may be possible to board the vessel and take product samples before it is docked to speed unloading.

Preparing Pier Pipelines

Before the vessel is docked, the pier pipelines should be filled, when and where possible, with the same grade of product that is going to be moved. Unless the pipelines are completely filled or empty, there is no way to get an accurate measurement of product issued or received.

Checking Mooring Lines

When the vessel is moored, mooring lines should be taut enough to hold it steady. The lines should also be slack enough to allow for the rise and fall of the tide and the change in the vessel's draft during product transfer. Lines must be watched and adjusted as product is moved and tides rise and fall.

Preparing Gangway and Testing Signal System

As soon as the vessel is docked, vessel personnel should rig a gangway with a safety net underneath so that inspectors and other personnel may board safely. Special equipment may be used if vessel movement makes rigging a gangway difficult. Vessel access must be according to Coast Guard regulations. The need for access applies mainly to large tank vessels where shore personnel witness sampling and gaging. The signal used at the dock to regulate product transfer should be tested.

Notifying the Vessel Master of Fire Protection Services

The master of the vessel must be told of fire protection services available at the pier. These services include power, water, and steam which may be needed to put out fires in the boiler and galley.


Information on the loading or unloading operations must be recorded on a waterfront operations log sheet. This information is used to prepare DD Form 250-1. The log sheet should be kept at the waterfront terminal. Discrepancies between the shore log and the ship's log should be identified. The information that the log sheet should include is given below:

  • Vessel name and assigned cargo number.
  • Date and time of the following actions:
      · · Vessel arrives in roads.
      · · Notice is given that vessel is to discharge.
      · · Vessel is moored.
      · · Ballast discharge is started.
      · · Ballast discharge is finished.
      · · Cargo is inspected and is ready to unload or load.
      · · Cargo hose or loading arm is connected
      · · Product is sampled.
      · · Unloading or loading is started.
      · · Unloading or loading is resumed.
      · · Unloading or loading is finished.
      · · Cargo hose or loading arm is removed.
      · · Bunkering is started.
      · · Bunkering is finished.
      · · Vessel is released by inspector.
      · · Vessel leaves berth.
  • Seal numbers and their location.
  • Vessel draft before, during, and after loading or unloading operations.
  • Condition of shore pipeline, such as whether it was full at the start and end of operations.
  • Product type.
  • Sample number.
  • Remarks, such as whether there were delays, what the causes of delays were, and what parties were responsible.


When a tank vessel has docked, responsible persons must make sure there are no fires, open flames, or open lights on deck or anywhere near the part of the deck at which the cargo hose is to be connected. Although it is sometimes necessary to keep fires in the boiler room when cargo is being loaded or unloaded, the potential hazard should be weighed. Extreme care should be taken when tugs or other vessels that may have open flames come alongside. Smokestacks of coal burning tugboats, dredges, or pile-driving equipment should have spark arresters. These precautions are very important during the transfer operation when large amounts of explosive vapors may form. Smoking or flame-spark-producing devices should not be allowed on the vessel or at the terminal, except in special places. Fire fighters must not be allowed to clean out stacks while vessels are docked. No garbage or waste of any kind should be thrown overboard while the vessel is docked. Additional measures are described below.

Caution Signs

Caution signs must be posted. They include NO SMOKING and NO LOITERING signs and traffic direction markers. A warning sign stating DANGER: THIS VESSEL HANDLING PETROLEUM must be posted. A sign stating NO FIRES, NO SMOKING, NO VISITORS should be posted in clear view on the gangway while product is being loaded or unloaded. The sign must be lettered in red on a white background. When a petroleum cargo is transferred at a mooring or dock, the vessel must display a red flag by day and an all-round red light by night.

Grounding Cable

A grounding cable must be connected between the dock grounding system and the hull of the vessel before the cargo hose is connected. This cable must not be removed until after the cargo hose is removed.

Cleanup of Spills

All spills must be cleaned up as soon as possible. Sources of vapor ignition must be eliminated.

Mooring Limitations

No vessel should be allowed to dock or moor within 50 feet of a vessel that is unloading bulk cargo, unless the depot officer or supervisor and the master of the vessel transferring cargo agree.

Mooring Line

At the end of each mooring line, at the bollard or belay pile, there should be a manila or synthetic fiber line that can be cut in an emergency. It is used if there is no other emergency release.

Relief Valves on Suction Lines

A shutdown of the booster pumps, either through error or power failure, will stop the flow and cause the full delivery head from the vessel's pumps to back up at the dock. There may also be a surge of pressure that could burst the hose. Precautions should be taken against these hazards. A battery of relief valves may be connected to the pump station suction line. The valves will relieve pressure until vessel personnel can be told to shut down the vessel's pumps.


To ensure safe operating procedures, the depot supervisor must inspect conditions both on shore and on the vessel before loading or unloading operations are started. There will usually be at least one deck officer and one engineer officer on duty aboard a tanker during such operations. This rule may be changed to suit transfer operations to and from small vessels.

Deck Watch and Hose Watch

During the entire loading or unloading operation, the vessel personnel usually provide a deck watch and the shore organization provides a hose watch. The hose watch observes ship/dock operations, looks for straining or chafing of the cargo hose, stands by at all times to close the dock valves, and coordinates with the deck watch to start and stop the operations.


All spills are subject to strict reporting requirements, with potential criminal liability for violations. In case of spill, in any amount, see section on "Preparing to Deal with Spill." All spills must be minimized. Personnel can limit a spill by closing a valve that was accidentally opened, stopping any pumping through a ruptured line, or plugging a leak. Various methods, equipment, and materials are used to clean up spills. The type of cleanup used is determined by the type of product, where the spill occurs, weather conditions, and special considerations. Special considerations include closeness to drinking water sources, fishing grounds, wildlife habitats, bathing beaches, and recreational areas.

Spills on Dock or Ship

If there is a spill on the dock or ship, transfer operations must be stopped. If possible, the spill should be bailed into the cargo tank or bulkhead. Remaining product should be absorbed with absorbent material. Care should be taken to remove possible sources of vapor ignition.

Spills on Water

A number of steps must be followed when handling product spilled on water. These steps are given below.

  • Containing spills. Spills on calm water can be contained by barriers, such as floating booms. Floating booms are tubular floating sections that usually have a weighted skirt. They are either inflated or filled with buoyant material. The booms can be installed around unloading tankers, or they can be kept ready and used as needed. Once the spill is contained, one end of the boom can be pulled in to concentrate the spill and make skimming easier. Makeshift booms can be made from inflated fire hoses or from railroad ties, telephone poles, or empty drums linked by chains or cables.
  • Following Preventive Booming Policy. DFSC practices preventive booming whenever regulations dictate and according to the following guidance:

      · · Transfers of nonpersistent fuels such as JP-8 and gasoline must not be boomed, unless ordered by the Coast Guard.

      · · Fixed boom will not be required in areas of swift current (1.5 knots or greater) when fuel will be deflected over the top or under the boom.

      · · Do not boom in situations deemed unsafe.

  • Removing oil from the water. Some of the product can be removed with the suction pump, piping, and other equipment on a regular skimming boat or a barge. Some skimming boats are designed especially for removing oil. Others are barges or boats that have been adapted to remove the product from the water and store it. Chemical dispersants approved by the(EPA can be used as soon as the spill is contained, however, they are usually used after some of the product has been removed by skimming.

NOTE: Chemical dispersants must be approved by the EPA.

  • Cleaning up. After all product possible has been removed, absorbents, adsorbents, and chemical dispersants may be used to complete the cleanup. Product is soaked up by an absorbent, but it clings to the surface of the particles of an adsorbent. If the water is not rough and the slick is limited in size, either of these may be used to gather product on the surface. Some absorbents and adsorbents are sawdust, straw, cotton waste, talc, and powdered bark. Sawdust, straw, and cotton waste can be buried. These materials must be disposed of according to EPA regulations. Chemical dispersants break up a slick into tiny droplets so that natural bacteria in the water can consume the product. Dispersants are usually sprayed from a vessel, from a helicopter or a crop-spraying plane, or from hand-held equipment. Dispersants are useful in rough, open seas where skimming is difficult. Chemicals should never be used near a freshwater source or where fish or beaches are of prime concern unless fire, safety hazards, or other emergency conditions exist.

Spills on Shore

Spilled product that comes ashore may be removed mechanically or by detergents. The quicker the cleanup, the less the spread of contaminants.

NOTE: All detergents used must be approved by the EPA.

  • Mechanical removal. Where the water is calm, the product can be recovered and disposed of after it is saturated into absorbents or adsorbents. If the product forms pools on the shore, it may be possible to pump it into tank trucks. Product from a heavy slick tends to be deposited at the high-water mark, where it can be removed by bulldozer or by pail and shovel. The process must be repeated as the tide brings in more product. Sand saturated with product must be removed. If a large amount of sand is removed from a beach, it must be replaced with clean sand.
  • Removal with detergents. Detergents may endanger marine life. For that reason, using detergents for cleaning up spills is less desirable that removing product by mechanical means. Also, if detergents are not used properly, they may soak into the beach and create quicksand. When detergents are used, the sand should be turned over with a cultivator. The detergent should be sprayed on the beach no sooner than one hour before the incoming tide. The tide action rinses the product from the sand and carries it out to sea. The beach should be hosed toward the sea if there is not enough tidal action to remove the product. Detergent may also be sprayed on rocky beaches, harbor walls, and rocky coasts and then hosed toward the sea.


The handling of jet fuel (JP-4 or JP-8) and kerosene creates special hazards. The safety precautions that must be followed when jet fuel and kerosene are loaded into tankers, barges, or storage facilities are given below.


These hazards involve the discharge of static electricity, which is caused by turbulence, low flashpoint, fast rate of flow, and water in the product.

  • All water must be removed from the tanks before loading operations begin. Vessel pipelines must be drained as much as possible before cargo tanks are stripped to lessen the chances of contamination with water. The tank bottoms must be hosed down by hand, and all water puddles must be removed. See Chapter 12 for tank entry procedures.
  • To lessen turbulence, the specified loading rates should not be exceeded by more than 3 feet per second until the tank inlet is submerged. The proper rate is about 1,000 barrels per hour through a 12-inch line. After the inlet is submerged, the normal loading rate may be used. The loading rate for each tank should be 3 feet per second. The total loading rate must be no more than the sum of the allowable rates for the tanks being filled. If there is turbulence after the loading inlet is submerged, the reduced rate must be continued until there is no turbulence. This limitation does not apply to discharge operations, because the rate of discharge of jet fuel and kerosene is controlled by the receiving activity.
  • Ullages, water soundings, temperatures, and samples must not be taken in a tank until the tank has been topped off and flow to the tank has stopped for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, other tanks may be loaded at the discretion of the local authority.


As soon as the vessel is docked, the terminal chief should review the loading plans with the master of the vessel. They should agree on any changes. The procedures for loading are described below:


After the vessel is moored and all safety precautions are taken, and before cargo hoses are connected, the vessel must be grounded to the dock. To ground a vessel, personnel must--

  • Inspect the grounding system to verify continuity and testing according to applicable standards.
  • Make sure the grounding switch is open.
  • Make sure the grounding clamp on the grounding cable is attached to a bare metal surface on the hull of the vessel. It may be necessary to sand a spot on the hull to make a good connection.
  • Check the grounding system to see that there are no loose connections.
  • Close the grounding switch.


Often, quantities of ballast water, needed to maintain proper vessel trim, are delivered to a terminal. The ballast must be removed from the vessel before it is loaded. It is against regulations to dump water containing petroleum products overboard. The best way to deballast at the terminal is to pump the ballast through a separate pipeline and oil and water separator to shore ballast tanks. Sometimes tank barges are used as ballast tanks. The terminal may not have a separate pipeline to handle ballast or the vessel may not have a stripping system. In these cases, cargo lines and pumps may be used if ballast water is clean and if lines and pumps are drained well after they have been used for ballast. Deballasting procedures must be followed carefully because product contamination may result from improper handling of ballast water. When pumping ballast ashore, personnel must--

  • Determine the amount of ballast to be pumped ashore, and make sure the shore tanks have enough ullage to hold it.
  • Connect one end of the ballast hose to the ballast pipeline connection on the dock.
  • Connect the other end of the ballast hose to the stripping connection on deck.
  • Open the valves aboard the vessel to empty the desired tanks.
  • Open the correct shore valves to permit pumping to the ballast tank.
  • Start the stripping pump.
  • Watch the pressure gage to make sure the proper valves are open. If the pressure is higher than normal, the line may be blocked.
  • Permit no ballast water and product to be transferred at the same time unless there is an emergency. Even though the water and product are separated by valves, product may become contaminated.
  • Continue pumping until all possible ballast water is removed from the vessel. Because of heavy deck cargo, it may be necessary to leave ballast in some tanks to stabilize the vessel during loading. Personnel should avoid doing this when possible.
  • After all ballast is removed, stop the pump and close the shore valves so that ballast will not drain back into the vessel lines.
  • Open valves in cargo lines, except sea suctions, to observe any line drainage into cargo tanks. They must make sure that cargo lines are drained completely.
  • Make sure that each tank is free of ballast and suitable to receive product. Personnel must clean tanks that are unsuitable to receive product. They should refer to Chapter 12 for guidelines on how to prepare cargo tanks to receive petroleum products.

Inspecting Vessel

Before product is loaded aboard a vessel, each tank compartment and all pumping and cargo lines must be inspected by the shore petroleum inspector. To certify that they are suitable to receive product, the inspector must-

  • Plan the order in which products should be delivered and choose which tanks will be filled first.
  • Inspect the hull of the vessel to the extent possible to see that it is not damaged and that there are no leaks.
  • Examine the pipelines, pumps, and deck manifold of the vessel for leaks or damage. Make sure that pumps and piping systems are free of product or water.
  • Open all of the valves in the cargo lines, except the sea suction valves which must be sealed. From outside the tank, watch for any line drainage into the cargo tanks. The shore petroleum inspector must make sure that the cargo lines are completely drained.
  • Inspect the interior of each compartment visually to make sure the tank is suitable to receive product. Use an explosion-proof flashlight. Look for scale, rust, holdover product, residue, water, mud, or anything else that might contaminate product to be loaded. Chapter 12 gives procedures and precautions on entering tanks.
  • Check the ship's log to determine the last product to be loaded. Chapter 12 contains information on how to prepare the tank to receive the next product.
  • Make sure that all fire and safety precautions have been taken.

Connecting Cargo Hose

The terminal furnishes hoses for loading and unloading vessels that are operated by non-DOD personnel. These hoses are usually connected and disconnected by shore operators. However, if the master of the vessel desires, the hoses may be connected or disconnected by vessel personnel at the risk of the vessel. When vessels have military operators, the vessel personnel normally connect and disconnect hoses on the vessel and the shore personnel connect and disconnect hoses on the shore. Military tank ships, fuel barges, and other vessels usually carry hoses; however shore hoses should be used when possible to save time. Most tankers have American standard 4-, 6-, or 8-inch flanges for hose attachment. They will cause no problem. Some tankers may have foreign made flanges or flanges with irregular spacing between the holes that need adapters or C-clamps. Older tankers may use the same spacing between holes for both 4- and 6-inch flanges. The terminal should have a set of straight and reducing adapter spools on hand to cover all normal requirements. It should have several sets of bolts, preferably of alloy steel. In all cases, at least four bolts will be used per coupling unless a camlock flange or C-clamp is used. If C-clamps are used, their strength must be verified by test or calculation. To prevent sliding or twisting, at least two bolts must be inserted through the vessel flange and hose flange when C-clamps are used. Although it is hazardous to do so, C-clamps may be knocked off in an emergency. Quick-acting clamping devices should be used instead of C-clamps, when possible. To connect a cargo hose, personnel must--

  • Make sure the vessel is grounded to the dock manifold before any hoses are connected.
  • Make sure the hose is suitable for handling product. They check the hoses for
  • contamination, cracks, holes, worn or frayed places, or other damage.
  • Place drip pans under connections on deck and on dock to catch spills.
  • Attach the hose to the hose support. Personnel raise the shore end of the hose in position to couple it to the dock manifold. They attach the hose flange securely to the manifold connection using all of the bolts. They place the other end of the hose where it can be picked up easily by the ship's hoist.
  • Attach the hose to the ship's hoist and raise it in position to connect it to the deck manifold. They align the holes of the hose flange and the deck manifold flange and bolt them together securely. The hose should be suspended above the deck during transfer.

Connecting Loading Arms

At some tanker loading facilities, marine loading arms (Figure 4-10) are used instead of cargo hose. The arms are operated by cables and hydraulics. Most marine loading arms have hydraulic connections instead of flange connections. To connect loading arms, use the following procedures:

  • Make sure the vessel is grounded to the dock manifold before the loading arm is connected.
  • Make sure the loading arm is suitable for handling the product. Check for damage or wear.
  • Place drip pans under connections on the deck to catch spills.
  • Lower the loading arm to make the connection to the deck manifold.
  • Attach the loading arm connection to the deck manifold, making sure the seal is tight.

Figure 4-10. Marine loading arm

Heating Cargoes

When tanks have heater coils, viscous products in the tanks should be heated to prescribed temperatures before transfer operations begin. Prescribed temperatures must not be exceeded. Very high temperatures deteriorate products and can cause vapor lock in pumps. Navy special burner fuel oil and heavy lubricating oils should be heated to above 100° F, but not over 120° F.

Pumping Product

Shore pumps usually are used to load vessels. If possible, the pier lines should be filled with product and samples should be tested before the vessel arrives. All valves to be used on the shore lines should be opened, except those used to prevent cross transfer and the valve at the pier hose connection. Special procedures should be followed when jet fuels or kerosene is pumped. Procedures to pump product are as follows:

  • Open the proper valves aboard the vessel so that product will flow to the correct tank from the dock manifold.
  • Open the proper shore valves to permit flow to the vessel.
  • Start the pumps, and operate them at a slow speed. Closely watch the pumping pressure shown on the pressure gage. The gage is usually in the line near the dock manifold. If too much pressure builds up quickly, it means a valve is closed in the line. In this case, shut down the pumps at once. Do not start pumping again until the problem is corrected.
  • Watch all hose and line connections for leaks. If there are leaks, stop the pumps immediately. Fix the leaks before starting again.
  • Watch the receiving lines and valves for leaks during the operation. A line walker should inspect the lines for leaks once every hour.
  • Carefully watch for changes in the tide and for slack or pull in the hose. Sudden movement of the vessel may cause damage to the hose and loss of product.
  • In case of fire on the vessel or dock or near the shore lines or tank farm area, stop the transfer operations at once and close all the valves. If the tank farm is next to the port, disconnect the cargo hose and move the vessel a safe distance from shore.
  • When an electrical storm is within a 3-mile radius of the transfer operation, stop transfer operations and close the valves on the vessel and dock. Coordinate on the weather before transfer operations are started. Maintain coordination during transfer operations if an electrical storm is probable. If there is no immediate hazard, the hose may be left connected. If there is an immediate hazard, the hose should be disconnected and drained and the main block valve on shore should be closed.
  • Avoid sudden increases in flow that might cause excessive surge pressure. When the product level is about 3 feet above the inlet, start the desired pumping rate. If there is still turbulence at this level, continue loading at the maximum allowable rate until it is time to top off the tanks.
  • Top off the tanks when they are about 90 percent full. While topping off the tanks, reduce the loading rate to avoid spills or overflow.
  • Watch the vessel's draft during loading so that it will not become overloaded.
  • Shut down the pumps and close all of the valves when all the yanks are filled and the vessel has proper trim.

Performing Follow-Up Procedures

Certain follow-up procedures must be performed after a vessel is loaded. These procedures are as follows:

  • Allow the suspended water and sediment to settle. Gage the contents of each tank compartment, and find the average temperature of the product at 60° F in each tank.
  • Take an all-levels sample of product from each tank compartment that contains the same product. Run a type C test on each sample according to FM 10-67-2. Make a multiple tank composite sample to be sent to the laboratory for testing. Use MIL-HDBK-200 as a guide.
  • Gage the product in the shore tanks. Find the average temperature of the product. Quantities are volume corrected according to DA Pamphlet 710-2-2. Compare the quantities delivered from the shore tanks with the quantities received in the vessel's tanks. Shore gages must be used to get the exact amount delivered. Note any difference between the amount delivered and the amount received. Report the differences to the proper authority.
  • Close and securely bolt all compartment hatches when the desired amount of product is loaded and is certified as on specification. Make sure that all ullage sounding holes are covered securely, and seal all areas required by regulation. Record all seal numbers on DD Form 250.
  • Pump ballast water into the proper tanks if the vessel needs ballast for proper trim for the voyage. The tanks must be clean before ballast is received. Only clean ballast should be pumped into the tanks.
  • Make sure that all line valves are closed. Disconnect the cargo hose, and drain any remaining product from the hose. Catch any spills in drip pans placed beneath the hose to drain into the water or on the dock. If spills occur, wipe them up immediately. Cover the hose ends with blind flanges and gaskets. Store the hose in a shelter or hose rack.

Refueling and Bunkering Tankers

Tankers may be refueled at the port terminal. The same procedures are used to issue fuel as those used to load fuel in the tanker. All bunkering operations should be recorded on DD Form 250-1. Samples must be taken to detect contamination. All safety precautions must be followed. After refueling, disconnect the refueling hose, open the grounding switch, and disconnect the bonding cable from the ship, in that order.


There are a number of procedures that must be followed to properly unload a vessel. These procedures are described below.


After the vessel is moored and all safety precautions are taken, the vessel must be grounded to the dock before cargo hoses are connected. To ground a vessel, take the following steps:

  • Inspect the grounding system to verify continuity and testing according to applicable standards.
  • Make sure the grounding switch is open.
  • Make sure the grounding clamp on the ship grounding clamp is attached to a bare metal surface on the hull of the vessel. It may be necessary to sand a spot on the hull to make a good connection.
  • Check the grounding system to see that there are no loose connections.
  • Close the grounding switch.

Inspecting Vessel

The master of the vessel and the shore petroleum inspector must review the loading plan of the vessel for grades and amount of products carried. Also, they must review the layout of the cargo and the order in which products should be unloaded. Before unloading operations begin, the shore petroleum inspector must check the manifest and DD Form 250-1 for serial numbers of valve seals. The inspector must verify that each seal is intact on isolation valves and sea suction valves. He must document reasons for missing or broken seals. Ullages, temperatures, and water soundings must be taken on each compartment by ship personnel and witnessed by shore personnel. These readings are recorded on DA Form 3853-3. Great differences in compartment gages after loading and before discharging must be checked promptly. The vessel's master must explain these differences in a written statement attached to the ullage report.

Sampling and Testing Product

If the product aboard the vessel has been inspected on procurement by the government, unloading operations may begin after a type C test of an all-levels sample of product from each compartment shows no contamination. Multiple tank composite samples must then be sent to the laboratory for type B-1 tests. If the product aboard the vessel has not been inspected on procurement by the government, the laboratory must run a type A test on samples from the upper, middle, and lower portions of each tank or an all-levels composite sample from each tank before discharge. If no testing facilities are readily available, any product in question should be placed in isolated storage until laboratory tests confirm quality.

Connecting Cargo Hose

The steps for connecting the cargo hose to unload a vessel are the same as those used to connect it to load a vessel. See page 4-18 for these steps.

Connecting Loading Arms

The steps for connecting loading arms to unload a vessel are the same as those used to connect them to load a vessel. See page 4-19 for these steps.

Heating Cargoes

The cargo may need to be heated before it is unloaded. See the information on heating cargoes given on page 4-20.

Pumping Product

There are certain procedures that must be followed to unload product from vessel to shore. These procedures are as follows:

  • Open the proper valves aboard the vessel so that product will flow from the correct tank to the dock manifold.
  • Open the proper shore valves to permit flow to the proper shore tank.
  • Start the pumps, and operate them at a slow speed. Closely watch the pumping pressure shown on the pressure gage. The gage is usually in the line near the dock manifold. If too much pressure builds up quickly, it means a valve is closed in the line. In this case, shut down the pumps at once. Do not start pumping again until the problem is corrected.
  • Sometimes, shore pumps are used to boost product flow. When this happens, adjust the discharge rate of the vessel and the shore pumps after the pumps are started. This is done to prevent shore location pump fuel starvation and to decrease discharge time.
  • Watch all hose and line connections for leaks. If leaks appear, stop the pumps immediately, and fix the leaks before starting again. A line walker should inspect the lines for leaks at least once every hour.
  • Gage the shore tanks during the unloading operation only as directed in the orders. The JP-5 and JP-8 shore tanks should not be gaged during unloading operations.
  • Carefully watch for changes in the tide and for slack or pull in the hose. Sudden movement of the vessel may cause damage to the hose and loss of product.
  • In case of fire on the vessel or dock or near the shore line or tank farm area, stop the transfer operations immediately and close all the valves. If the tank farm is next to the port, disconnect the cargo hose and move the vessel a safe distance from shore.
  • When an electrical storm is within a 3-mile radius of the transfer operation, stop transfer operations and close the valves on the vessel and dock. Coordinate on the weather before transfer operations are started. Maintain coordination during transfer operations if an electrical storm is probable. If there is no immediate hazard, the hose may be left connected. If there is an immediate hazard, the hose should be disconnected and drained and the main block valve on shore should be closed.
  • When all the product has been pumped from one cargo tank, open the valves of the next tank carrying the same product and close the valves of the empty tank. Be careful not to pump water ashore. The pump should continue operating while tanks are being switched.
  • Watch the draft of the vessel during the unloading operation to make sure the vessel maintains proper trim.
  • When the shore tank nears capacity, open the valves leading to the next tank with the same product. Top off the first tank at a slower rate, and close the valves when the first tank is full.
  • When the last of a series of vessel cargo tanks carrying the same product is almost empty, reduce the flow of product. When all product has been pumped from the last tank, stop all the pumps and close all line valves.

Performing Follow-Up Procedures

Certain follow-up procedures must be performed after a vessel is loaded. These procedures are as follows:

  • The petroleum inspector or a representative checks to see that the tank compartments are empty. He then fills out a dry-tank certification on a DD Form 250-1 or on the vessel's ullage report, or on both. The amount of any product that cannot be pumped ashore will be estimated. The estimate will be entered on the dry-tank certification.
  • A representative of the US government does the final shore tank gaging. Sampling is witnessed by an officer or agent of the vessel or another authorized representative.
  • The vessel's master may decide not to wait until after the product settles to gage the shore tanks. In this case, the estimated amount received, based on gages taken after unloading and before the end of the settling period, may be entered on DD Form 250-1. A preliminary check should be made 30 minutes after receipt. Any two successive gages that agree are used as the correct gage.
  • Fresh stocks of product should be allowed to settle for about two hours after they are added to shore tanks. After the product has settled, the final official gages are taken and the volume is corrected according to DA Pamphlet 710-2-2. These readings are used for accountability and are noted on DD Form 250-1.
  • A composite sample, which is a mixture of upper, middle, and lower samples, is taken from each shore tank. The sample is tested according to MIL-HDBK-200.
  • Ballast water is pumped into the proper tanks if the vessel needs ballast to maintain trim during the voyage. Tanks must be clean before ballast is received, and only clean water should be pumped aboard.
  • When all the tanks are empty and the ballast is loaded, all compartment hatches are closed and bolted down securely. All ullage sounding holes should be securely covered.
  • All line valves should be closed. The cargo hose must be disconnected, and any remaining product must be drained from the hose. Spills are caught in drip pans placed beneath the hose connection. The hose should not be allowed to drain into the water or on the dock. If spills occur, they must be wiped up at once. The hose ends must be covered with blind flanges and gaskets. The hose is stored in a shelter or hose rack.
  • The cargo hose must be disconnected, and the grounding switch must be opened. The bonding cable is then disconnected from the ship.

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