A cargo ship Elli (254 metres long and 38 metres wide) sailing under the Bahamian flag arrived at Naantali (Finland) at the end of autumn to take on a cargo of grain. There was so much loose rust scale around the sides of the holds that loading permission could not be granted until the rust was removed. This was done by shotgun using steel-shot cartridges.
‘We are responsible for the quality of cargoes in the interests of both buyer and seller’ said Marine and Cargo Surveyor Esa Anttio of Sea Load Control Ltd. If any rust were to be found in the grain it would have certainly caused a complaint and contamination of the cargo. The ship's captain discarded conventional rust removing methods as too expensive because the ship was not equipped with any cranes or lifts of its own. The only remaining option was shooting by shotgun. In the captain's words this method is often used in the United States. ‘No ship has been shot clean anywhere in Europe before this, so when the knowledge of such an event spread over Europe it has caused a great interest’ said Mr. Anttio.
A total of 5,000 shots were required to clean the ship over 2 days. Removing the rust was occasionally quite laborious. After climbing down to check where the flaking rust was, shooting at that spot began. Sometimes the first shot produced a result and sometimes 6-7 shots were required at the same spot before the rust began to shake. The ship was eventually shot clean and the crew had cleaned up the rust from the bottom of the hold.
Mr. Esa Anttio said that he has inspected about 2000 vessels and rust problems occur in about 10%. ‘Now that this kind of trick has found it's way to Europe we will use it in the future when the need arises’ said Mr. Anttio after finally granting permission to load the ship.