When the cargo work is over, it is necessary to cover the ship's hatches. Hatches may be covered either with wooden hatchboards or with other special covering systems. Despite the covering system used, the hatchbeams should be fitted into sockets riveted to the inner side of the coamings. The hatchbeams serve to support the hatch covers. It takes much time to close or open the hatches by wooden hatchboards since this work of covering is done by manpower.

Quick operating hatch covers permit the opening or closing of covers in as little time as two minutes per hatch. The handling operations are simple and safe. The covers are hauled over runways by wires attached to winches. Some types of hatch covers are formed of hinged sections, in one or several pairs, and are specially suitable to big hatchways or the wide openings as found in ore carriers. The hinged sections fold up "concertina" fashion and are stowed at the ends of the hatchway. Where space is restricted at the batch ends, a side rolling system is introduced, thwartships from the holds.
The use of the modern form of hatch coverings has the following advantages:
1. Quick working.
2. Reduced cargo handling time.
3. Better use of the space.
4. Elimination of damage due to the presence of coamings.
Saving of time is at least 75% of the time devoted to handling hatch covers of the old type. After finishing loading and before leaving the port, it is obligatory to cover the hatches with tarpaulins to ensure watertightness.