Ship To Ship Cargo Transfer

Petroleum Tankers
Gas Tankers


Ship To Ship Oil Transfers

Our team will coordinate the whole operation from onboard, and with operational support ashore, to ensure constant communication before and during the vessel’s transfer operation. Our people have all undertaken offshore safety training and are experienced in all aspects of Ship Agency

Fully trained and experienced team

With the increasing requirement for STS operations in today’s oil market, we have introduced a single point of contact facility for all our customers’ STS needs. We have one of the most advanced web-based operations and accounting systems available in the marketplace, which can be accessed by our principal 24 hours 

Port Agency covering everything

Our port agents will quietly and efficiently take care of all the regular routine tasks, 24/7. They’ll ensure that essential supplies, crew transfers, customs documentation, and waste declarations are all arranged without delay. They’ll provide you with updates and reports so you have up-to-the-minute information that you need

Ship-To-Ship Transfer (STS)

This cutting edge system supports a dedicated team, who will coordinate the whole operation prior and during the vessel’s call, so our principals know that their vessels will be in safe hands.

Oil tankers and gas carriers carry a huge amount of cargo in bulk which does not have to be unloaded in just one port but at different ports. Even some carriers like VLCC and ULCC which are massive in size does not berth in port or jetty for discharge operation due to draught restrictions. In such condition ship to ship transfer is utilized.

A ship to ship transfer becomes very economical as the ship does not have to berth at the jetty, especially for huge oil tankers, which removes the port berthing charges and also cut short the time for berthing and mooring. But all these come at a cost of high environmental pollution and fire risk as chances of leakage in operation is always there in the open sea when the ship is not moored or it is moving.

The procedure and requirements for conducting Ship to Ship transfer operation

A STS or ship to ship transfer refers to the transfer of ship’s cargo, which can be oil or gas cargo, between two merchant tanker vessels positioned alongside each other. Either the ships can stand still or the STS operation can also be performed while ships are underway. But it requires proper coordination, equipment, and approval to perform such operation. Both the masters of the ships are responsible for the entire STS operation.


The Following are the requirements for conducting Ship to Ship transfer operation:

  • Adequate training of oil tanker’s staff carrying out the operation.
  • Proper STS equipment to be present on both the vessels and they should be in good condition.
  • Pre-planning of the operation with notifying the amount and type of cargo involved.
  • Proper attention to the difference in freeboard and listing of both the vessel while transferring oil.
  • Taking permission from the relevant port state authority.
  • Properties of Cargo involved to be known with available MSDS and UN number.
  • A proper communication and communication channel to be set up between the ships.
  • Dangers associated with the cargo like VOC emission, chemical reaction, etc to be briefed to the entire crew involved in the transfer.
  • Fire fighting and oil spill equipment to be present and crew to be well trained to use them in an emergency.
  • All guidelines to be followed as per MEPC 59, MARPOL Annex 1 chapter 8, SOPEP, SMPEP, STS transfer guide and operational plan.


Adequate training of oil tanker’s staff carrying out the operation.

The complete operation is to be recorded in Oil Record Book

Book A Vessel


IMO SOLAS 74, the last adopted revised convention of 1974, includes a number of regulations under different SOLAS chapters, which deals with safety precautions and safety procedures starting from the construction of the ship to real emergency like – “Abandon Ship”.  The convention is updated to meet the safety norms in the modern shipping industry from time to time.

This article explains the contents of SOLAS chapters and regulations providing a summary of SOLAS, i.e. different chapters of SOLAS and the regulations they carry. Marine Insight has provided links of various articles which will help the readers to understand how the regulation of the SOLAS Annexes is implemented on a seagoing vessel and the importance of SOLAS.

Ship To Ship Regulations: 

As Per Resolution of MEPC (59) a new chapter 8 is added to MARPOL Annex I for prevention of pollution during STS operation between two ships.

  • The STS operation plan should be approved by the administration.
  • The STS operation plan is to be in the working language and to be approved not later than the date of first annual survey (intermediate or renewal under MARPOL Annex I)
  • The guidelines of the STS plan should be in accordance with the requirements of IMO “Manual on oil pollution prevention, amended section 1”, ICS and OCIMF “ ship to ship transfer guide”.
  • The plan may be incorporated in SMS required by the Chapter IX of SOLAS 74, but in any case, the plan is to be approved as required by the resolution.
  • After approval of administration on STS plan, Operation shall be in accordance with the plan as far as possible.
  • The complete operation is to be recorded in Oil Record Book (ORB) and STS operation record book.
  • The above record to be retained in the ship for 3 years.
  • Any oil tanker under STS plan operates under the territorial waters or exclusive economic zone of MARPOL, must notify the following information to relevant coastal authority prior to 48 hours of the commencement of the STS operation:
  • Ship’s name, call sign and IMO number.

–          Details of Owner, operator or shipping company.

–          Type and quantity of oil for STS operation.

–          Preparation is done in brief for carrying out the operation.

–          The estimated time duration of the complete operation.

–          The operation to be performed underway or in anchorage.

–          Identification of STS operations service provider or person in charge for overall advisory


  • If there is a delay in the ETA, the same must be informed to the coastal authority.
  • After Delay in ETA, all the information listed above to be re-confirm to coastal authority prior to 6 hrs carrying out the operation


STS Cargo transfer

A good communication plan and coordination are required to secure a safe connection and transfer of the required amount of cargo.

This stage is the one which is different between liquid and dry cargo as the procedures for loading/discharging are different. Procedures in respect of loading/discharging for each specific type of cargo must be followed just like terminal transfer loading/discharging. In addition, a loading/discharging plan should be in place with applicable ballast operations involvement.

Finally, the transfer rate is to be agreed between the two vessels and be continuously monitored.

Post-Transfer procedure

After completing the transfer, the two vessels should disconnect the cargo links (hoses or other), secure all cargo areas and release mooring lines.

The procedure is the same as the vessel’s departure from a dock or terminal, but special care should be taken in order to avoid any hull damage between vessels.

In case of underway STS operation, the departure procedure should be a step-by-step action increasing the distance between vessels normally.

In the meantime, a series of documents are available to support the STS operation. Apart from Joint Plan or Loading/Unloading plans, several checklists should be completed:

  1. Pre-fixture information for each ship
  2. Before operations commence
  3. Before run-in and mooring
  4. Before cargo transfer
  5. Before unmooring
  6. Pre-transfer checklist (in port operations)
  7. During transfer checklist (in port operations)

A list of conducted STS operations and a documented risk assessment procedure should also be available for future use and lessons to be learned. Evidence of toolbox meeting prior to conducting the operation is always a good practice guide.

Moreover, a detailed emergency response plan is to be issued, including pollution prevention actions and response, emergency breakaway (how the two vessels will unmoor safely and quickly in case of an emergency event), fire protection measures (environmental / structural or human-related), as well as roles and responsibilities (for all personnel involved).


International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals (ISGOTT).



Procedures for selecting a safe STS transfer area taking into consideration traffic density, availability of good holding ground, weather conditions and local port regulations.


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