Ship to Ship Transfer Guide for Petroleum, Chemicals and Liquefied Gases

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Published Date

November 2013

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Ship to Ship Transfer Guide for Petroleum, Chemicals and Liquefied Gases

(Excludes any applicable taxes)

This Guide provides advice for Masters, Marine Superintendents and others, such as STS service providers and transfer organisers, involved in the planning and execution of STS operations. Particular attention is given to the effective planning of operations and aspects including risk assessment, ship compatibility, and the management of workloads to minimise fatigue.

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This industry guide provides recommendations on safety, minimum equipment levels and good operating practices. If more stringent international, national or local regulations apply then they should take precedence.


This guide is a required publication on the SIRE Vessel Inspection Questionnaires for Oil Tankers, Combination Carriers, Shuttle Tankers, Chemical Tankers and Gas Tankers.


This book supersedes:

• Ship to Ship Transfer Guide (Petroleum) 4th Edition published in 2005

• Ship to Ship Transfer Guide (Liquefied Gas) 2nd Edition published in 1995

• LNG Ship to Ship Transfer Guidelines published in 201.1


This book builds on the previous recommendations and recognises experience gained in the industry of STS transfer operations, including transferring chemical (MARPOL Annex II) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes. The guide is applicable to transfers involving all bulk liquid cargoes, but where specific recommendations relate to a particular cargo type these can be found in the appendices. For transfers involving Annex I cargoes, the guide supports the requirements and recommendations developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


The guide is aimed at providing advice to Masters, Marine Superintendents and others including STS service operators and transfer organisers, who may be involved in planning and executing STS operations. Attention is also given to the effective planning of operations and areas that involve risk assessment.


The guide does not cover STS transfer operations that are associated with offshore exploration and production activities.

Section 1


General Principles

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Background

1.3 Scope

1.4 Risk assessments

1.5 Control of operations

1.5.1 General

1.5.2 Manning for ship to ship operations and the prevention of fatigue

1.6 Role of a ship to ship superintendent

1.7 Person in overall advisory control

1.8 Training and familiarisation of ship’s personnel

1.9 Security

1.9.1 Security on multiple vessels


Section 2


Conditions and Requirements

2.1 Ship to ship compatibility

2.1.1 General

2.1.2 Ship to ship transfer operations involving vessels of a similar length

2.1.3 Use of dumb barges

2.2 Notification to and approval from authorities

2.2.1 MARPOL Annex I cargoes

2.2.2 Chemical cargoes

2.2.3 Other cargoes

2.3 Transfer area

2.4 Environmental conditions

2.4.1 Cold weather precautions

2.4.2 Ship to ship operations in ice conditions

2.4.3 Cargo sloshing considerations

2.5 Quality assurance of ship to ship service providers


Section 3



3.1 General

3.2 Risk assessment

3.2.1 Risk assessment of transfer location

3.2.2 Risk assessment of ship to ship operation

3.3 Personal protective equipment and life saving appliances

3.4 Use of checklists

3.5 Material safety data sheets

3.6 Gas accumulation on open decks

3.7 Action in case of infringement of safety

3.8 Action in case of cargo leakage

3.9 Helicopter operations

3.10 Safety during cargo transfer

3.10.1 Smoking and naked lights

3.10.2 Earths on electrical switchboards

3.10.3 Machinery operations

3.10.4 Electrical isolation Other places where electrical arcing may occur

3.10.5 The use of radio and satellite communication equipment General Automatic identification systems

3.10.6 Radar use

3.10.7 Readiness of fire-fighting equipment

3.10.8 Electrical storms

3.10.9 Galley stoves

3.10.10 Accommodation openings

3.10.11 Unauthorised craft


Section 4



4.1 General communications

4.2 Language

4.3 Pre-arrival communications

4.3.1 Information required from the ships

4.3.2 Advice to be given to the ships by the ship to ship organisers

4.4 Navigational warnings

4.5 Communications during approach, mooring and unmooring

4.6 Communications during cargo transfer operations

4.7 Procedures for communication failure


Section 5


Operational Preparations

5.1 General

5.2 Joint plan of operation

5.3 Preparation of ships

5.4 Lightering support vessels

5.5 Navigational signals


Section 6


Manoeuvring and Mooring

6.1 Basic principles

6.2 Manoeuvring alongside at sea with two ships under power

6.2.1 General advice for controlling the two ships

6.2.2 Advice for manoeuvring alongside

6.2.3 Manoeuvring a combined two ship system to anchor

6.2.4 Underway transfer

6.3 Manoeuvres with one ship at anchor

6.4 Manoeuvring for in port operations

6.5 Manoeuvring with one ship alongside a terminal

6.6 Mooring operations

6.6.1 Mooring plans Mooring analysis

6.6.2 At sea mooring operations Efficiency of ship to ship mooring systems

6.6.3 In port mooring operations


Section 7


Procedures Alongside

7.1 Pre-transfer procedures

7.2 Responsibility for cargo operations

7.3 Planning for cargo transfer

7.4 Cargo transfer – general guidance

7.4.1 Vapour balancing – general considerations Vapour balancing considerations before commencing cargo transfer Vapour balancing considerations during cargo transfer Vapour hose considerations

7.5 Operations after completion of cargo transfer

7.6 Bunkering and storing


Section 8



8.1 Preparations for unmooring

8.2 Unmooring procedure

8.2.1 Unmooring after underway transfer

8.2.2 Unmooring while one ship is at anchor

8.2.3 Unmooring from a ship alongside a terminal

8.2.4 Unmooring using quick release arrangements


Section 9



9.1 Fenders

9.1.1 Fenders used for at sea transfers

9.1.2 Reference guide for fender selection for at sea transfers

9.1.3 Fender requirements

9.1.4 Fenders used for in port transfers

9.1.5 Low pressure fenders

9.1.6 Ribbed fenders

9.1.7 Foam filled fenders

9.2 Cargo transfer hoses

9.2.1 Hose standards

9.2.2 Hose length

9.2.3 Pressure ratings and flow velocities

9.2.4 Hose handling

9.2.5 Hose connection

9.2.6 Hose inspection and testing

9.2.7 Marking

9.3 Mooring equipment

9.4 Personnel transfers – at sea operations

9.4.1 Suitability of lifting equipment

9.5 Personnel transfers – in port operations

9.6 Lighting

9.7 Ancillary equipment for ship to ship operations

9.8 Equipment noise levels


Section 10



10.1 Contingency planning and emergency response procedures

10.2 Emergency signal

10.3 Emergency situations

10.4 Examples of potential emergencies

10.4.1 Emergencies during manoeuvring

10.4.2 Procedures in the event of gas accumulation on deck

10.4.3 Accidental cargo release

10.5 Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan, Shipboard Marine Pollution Emergency Plan (SMPEP) andVessel Response Plan (VRP)

10.6 State of readiness for an emergency

10.7 Cessation of transfer operations as a precautionary measure



A Additional considerations for ship to ship transfers involving MARPOL Annex I cargoes (crude oil and petroleum products)

B Additional considerations for ship to ship transfers Involving MARPOL Annex II Cargoes (chemicals)

C Additional considerations for ship to ship transfers involving liquefied petroleum gas cargoes

D Additional considerations for ship to ship transfers involving liquefied natural gas cargoes

E Operational/safety checklists

F Example checklist for personnel transfers by crane

G Example checklist for transfers involving vapour balancing

H Fender selection calculation

I Considerations applicable to reverse lightering operations

J Guidance for connection of individual hose lengths to assemble a hose string

K Guidance on risk assessment processes

L Example liquefied natural gas ship to ship transfer compatibility questionnaire


OCIMF is widely recognised as the voice of the oil industry providing expertise in the safe and environmentally responsible transport and handling of hydrocarbons in ships and terminals and setting standards for continuous improvement. Membership is extensive and includes every oil major in the world along with the majority of National Oil Companies.


ICS membership comprises national shipowners' associations in Asia, Europe and the Americas whose member shipping companies operate over 80% of the world's merchant tonnage. Established in 1921, ICS is concerned with all technical, legal, employment affairs and policy issues that may affect international shipping.

ICS represents shipowners with the various intergovernmental regulatory bodies that impact on shipping, including the
International Maritime Organization. ICS also develops best practices and guidance, including a wide range of publications and free resources that are used by ship operators globally.


The purpose of SIGTTO is to promote shipping and terminal operations for liquefied gases which are safe, environmentally responsible and reliable. To fulfil this mission it will:

  • Proactively develop best operating practices and guideline

  • Sustain a learning environment by sharing lessons learned

  • Promote training and development of all within the industry

  • Foster mutually beneficial relationships with regulatory authorities and other stakeholders

  • Conduct its business with professionalism and integrity



The CDI is a chemical industry organization, incorporated under the law of the Netherlands as the Stichting Chemical Distribution Institute (CDI) and operates as a non-profit making foundation.

CDI is managed by a Board of Directors consisting of seven individuals nominated by the participating chemical companies. The Board of Directors establishes policy and is responsible for overall affairs of the foundation. Individual Executive Boards are elected to oversee and direct the staff managing day to day activities for the Marine, Terminals and Marine Packed Cargo Schemes.

Title: Ship to Ship Transfer Guide for Petroleum, Chemicals and Liquefied Gases
Number of Pages: 160
Product Code: WS1412K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-85609-594-5 (9781856095945), ISBN 10: 1-85609-594-0 (1856095940)
Published Date: November 2013
Binding Format: Hardback
Book Height: 240 mm
Book Width: 150 mm
Book Spine: 10 mm
Weight: 1.20 kg
Author: Oil Companies International Marine Forum

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