Bunkering is the supply of fuel for use by ships at a seaport. The term stemmed from the times of steamships, when the fuel, coal, was stored in bunkers. Nowadays the term bunker is generally connected to the storage of petroleum products in tanks and the practice and business of refuelling ships. Bunkering operations are situated at seaports, and they incorporate the storage of “bunker” (ship) fuels and the provision of the fuel to vessels. Bunkering incorporates the shipboard logistics of loading fuel and distributing it among available “bunkers” (on-board fuel tanks.)

Bunkering is one process on ships which has been the reason behind several accidents in the past. Bunkering on the ship can be of fuel oil, sludge, diesel oil, cargo and so on. Bunkering of fuel or diesel oil requires extreme care and alertness to prevent any sort of fire mishap or oil spill.

More about the procedure before Bunkering:

1. The chief engineer calculates and checks which bunker/fuel oil tanks are to be filled after he gets affirmation from the shore office about the amount of fuel to be received.

2. It may be required to empty a few tanks and transfer the oil from one tank to another. This is required in order to avert the mixing of two oils and avoid incompatibility between the previous oil and the new oil.

3. A meeting should be held between the individuals that will partake in the bunkering procedure and they ought to be clarified about the following:

  • Which tanks are to be filled?
  • The sequence order of tanks to be filled.
  • How much bunker is to be taken?
  • Emergency procedure in the event that an oil spill occurs.
  • The duties of each officer are clarified.
  • Sounding is taken before bunkering and a record is made.
  • A checklist is to be filled with the goal that nothing is missed.
  • All deck scuppers and spare plates are stopped.
  • The overflow tank is checked to be empty.
  • Sufficient lighting at the bunker and sounding position are to be provided.
  • ‘No smoking’ notification ought to be positioned.
  • On-board correspondence between the people involved in bunkering is made.
  • Warning Flag/light is presented on the masthead.
  • Opposite side bunker manifold valves are shut and blanked appropriately.
  • The vessel draft and trim is recorded before bunkering.
  • All types of gear in the SOPEP (shipboard oil pollution emergency plan) locker are checked to be set up.
  • At the point when the barge is secured to the ship side, the people involved in the barge are also clarified about the bunker plan.
  • Barge paperwork is checked for the oil’s grade and density in the event that they are according to the specification.
  • The pumping rate of the bunker is agreed upon with the barge.
  • The hose is then connected to the manifold.
  • All the valves required are open and checked.
  • Proper communication between the barge and the ship is to be established.
  • Sign and signals are to be followed as discussed in case of communication during a crisis.
  • After this, the manifold valve is open for bunkering.

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