The first time I encountered CargoMax software was in 2008 when I was a cadet aboard Stolt Topaz, a chemical tanker. CargoMax is a ship stability and load management program used onboard tankers, container ships, RO-RO’s, passenger and research vessels, barges, FPSO’s, and military craft. My classmate and I were the only Americans and the only females aboard Stolt Topaz as we sailed with the Filipino-crewed ship for two Transatlantic voyages transporting fuels, acetic acid, and the toxic and possibly carcinogenic propylene oxide from Houston to Belgium, France, and Holland. In my two months aboard, I learned the most about ships and naval architecture, improved dramatically musically, and became immersed in a completely different culture. As for CargoMax’s role, I remember arriving at my cargo watch at 0400 and drearily punching tank loading values into a computer in the cargo control room amidships while the second mate tutored me in cargo support systems and Tagalog, the national language of the Phillipines.
What I didn’t realize at that time was that the manufacturer of the software we were using was none other than Herbert Software Systems Inc, my current employer. It’s interesting to transition from the operational to design side of a distinct element of the ship’s cargo systems. Ships need a way of monitoring the cargo and ballast they have aboard and analyzing how the distribution affects the vessel’s stability and performance. CargoMax was used on Stolt Topaz to communicate with sensors in the tanks, displaying to the crew at what percent each tank was loaded. We would also overwrite the fill percentages of the tanks to predict the trim and displacement of the vessel if we were to transfer cargo between tanks or discharge ballast. Above, my coworker Daniel installs CargoMax aboard the bulk carrier Yannis Gorgias at Hudong Shipyard. The Chief Mate checks the accuracy of the program with tank capacity print-outs to ensure that the software is reporting accurate numbers. The green speck on the screen represents a plan view of one tank on the port side that has been virtually loaded.