Episode 26: MSL and LC – Abbreviation with meaning

Some of you may know the saying:

“In court and on the high seas, you are in God’s hands”.

This expresses that you are helpless and have no influence on what is happening.

This applies in part to sea transportation. Probably the oldest load securing regulations already existed in seafaring.

Everything had to be lashed down and stowed tightly to prevent the cargo from shifting, making the ship unstable and possibly even sinking.

Since today’s ships still float according to the same physical principles and the sea with its manifestations of wind, waves and currents cannot be assessed 100% correctly even with the latest technology, safety factors must be used.

These abbreviations represent load values for securing equipment or devices that must not be exceeded when securing loads.

They are usually specified in kiloNewtons (kN). The securing devices can be ropes, chains or belts, but also attachment points on vehicles or lanyards.

The basis for determining the MSL or LC is the respective breaking force. In other words, the force at which the securing device or equipment fails.

Here is an example of a broken shackle that had a breaking load of 306 kN and was loaded far beyond the permissible MSL.

The maximum load should have been 153 kN.

Example of an iron bar that is constricted by stretching and then breaks off.

The CTU Code shows this table with the MSL values for various securing devices in Appendix 7, Chapter 2.4.2.

This information is based on the: Guidelines for the proper stowage and securing of cargo during carriage by sea (Resolution A.714(17)) (CSS Code).

This is a detailed set of rules with calculation examples for specific loads. Another factor is introduced there.

The safety factor CS (Calculated Strength) for complex load securing situations in order to compensate for the uneven distribution of the acting forces.

When calculating these difficult charges, it can assume the following values:

  • 1.5 if no horizontal angles are taken into account,
  • 1.35 if horizontal angles are included in the calculation
  • and the factor 1.2 if the acting forces are essentially known.

The CS value is calculated by dividing the MSL by the assumed factor (1.5; 1.35 or 1.2).

Care should always be taken to ensure that the securing devices have a comparable elongation, are as similar as possible and are not routed over rough surfaces or sharp edges.

In terms of elongation, the effective lengths should not differ too greatly.

Interested readers can find more information or download the CSS code under the link: https://www.tis-gdv.de/tis/ls/inhalt3-htm/ on the TIS-GDV website for further information or to download the CSS code.

For the normal shipper, who merely stows the cargo in the container, the above explanations are merely background knowledge in order to be able to correctly classify and understand the various designations and abbreviations.

Yours, Sigurd Ehringer

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