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Ship Cargo Planner

What’s it like working as a Ship Cargo Planner? A ship arriving at a port may be loading tons of cargo, discharging tons of cargo, or supplementing cargo that is already loaded onboard. And it is crucial for stability and safety that any loading or discharging is done in the correct way, otherwise there is a risk of harm to the ship, to its crew and to port operatives. A Ship Cargo Planner essentially ensures that the goods and cargoes loaded or uploaded from a ship reach their end destination in the correct state. For container ships, planning container positions gives the added benefit of maximising space on the ship and minimising the ship unloading time at the next port of discharge. This role is usually covered by shift work, and some weekend work is to be expected.

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What kind of work can I do? Roles that the Ship Cargo Planner might be expected to do include assessing loading/discharging suitability of the ship, allocating quay handling equipment, organising adequate storage if needed, and communicating with port operatives to assign destinations for the cargo. Ship Cargo Planners are also proficient on computer systems and usually use sophisticated cargo planning software to remove the risk of planning errors. Ship Cargo Planners also need to be aware of the different properties of cargoes, for example heavy containers should be positioned at the bottom of the stack, while liquid cargoes need to be held in tanks to reduce the free flowing surface of the cargo which could lead to ship instability. Likewise, if incompatible cargoes are being loaded, good planning will remove the risk of contamination or damage. Additionally, Ship Cargo Planners must take the working loads of the ship structure into account, and adhere to international safety codes for cargoes, if applicable. A Ship/Cargo Planner may also coordinate vessel schedules. Where can I work? Ports and terminals offer the most employment opportunities for Ship Cargo Planners, although positions are also be available in major shipping companies and some ship agencies. A Ship Cargo Planner performs an important role in the safe and secure stowage of cargo to protect both people and ships.

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How big is this sector? There are many international opportunities for Ship Cargo Planners and applications should be made directly to the port, terminal or shipping line.