Ultrasonic Hatch Testing

The integrity of the weathertight seals on a ship’s hatch covers is obviously crucial to the safety of the ship, crew and the condition of the cargo. For these reasons we need to use the best tool available for assessing the condition of the seals and their capacity for absorbing movement when a vessel flexes in a seaway.


Hatch cover leaks account for around 1/3 of incidents involving wetting damage to cargo. Traditional hatch testing methods such as hose or chalk have major limitations and misplaced trust in the results has led to significant losses such as the non-acceptance of this shipment of steel plate.


The method preferred by P&I clubs for this purpose is ultrasonic hatch cover testing, a service which MarinIR can provide for marine clients using the type-approved SDT Sherlog TA ultrasound system. No other test method can show the level of compression in a seal rubber and pinpoint the site and extent of any leak.

Diagram of ultrasound testing in a ship compartment.

Quick, clean, reliable and repeatable, ultrasonic hatch cover tests can be conducted for a specific voyage or as a regular part of a vessel’s preventive maintenance program. An ultrasound source is placed in the hold and the hatch covers closed. Then by measuring the intensity of ultrasound waves escaping through the seal and drains we can assess how well the hatch covers will cope in adverse conditions and be in a much better position to prevent water ingress and thus avoid any subsequent damage to cargo.

This proactive approach is crucial so that, in the event of a claim, hatch covers and maintenance records should be able to withstand detailed scrutiny, making a lack of due diligence much more difficult to argue.

The ultrasonic method can also be used to inspect watertight doors, ro-ro doors, fire dampers, smoke doors, ports/windows and deck/bulkhead penetrations as part of a safety audit.

Image of thermal imagingImage of thermal imaging

See the Ultrasound page for further applications

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