Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Maritime Freight Insurer Requests Urgent Action on Cargo and Container Safety

Call for Existing Regulations to be Enforced as Fires at Sea Proliferate
Shipping News Feature
UK – WORLDWIDE – Ahead of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) meeting of the Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC), the international freight insurance specialist, TT Club is calling for more urgent action on issues pertaining to the safety of container transport.

For some time now the insurer has been drawing both industry and regulators’ attention to the need for greater ‘Cargo Integrity’, by which is meant the safe, secure and environmentally sound packing, handling and transport of all goods in containers and other transport units, in compliance with conventions (such as SOLAS) and codes, including IMDG Code and the CTU Code. TT Club’s Risk Management Director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox commented:

“Achieving such Cargo Integrity across the complex web of the international freight supply chain is a big ask and we are in little doubt that a comprehensive result will take time to achieve. However many industry bodies are making significant strides, particularly in the areas of dangerous goods identification, declaration and handling as well as container weighing and packing. We are calling on the regulators, in this case the IMO, to assist in taking action to identify appropriate legislative and behavioural change that will improve safety and certainty of outcome.”

A primary concern is the problem of misdeclared dangerous goods, with some sources suggesting that container fires occur on a weekly basis and that a major container cargo fire engulfs a ship at sea on average once every 60 days. Such incidents are costing seafarer lives, result in loss and damage to goods and ships running into hundreds of millions of dollars, impact the environment and are significantly disrupting supply chains serving markets throughout the world.

TT Club has analysed data pertaining to such losses and contributed the aggregated experiences of those it insures, carriers, forwarders, ports, terminals and cargo owners, to help inform the cargo handling trade association, ICHCA, which benefits from consultative status at IMO, in its submissions to CCC, which meets this week in London.

There are both general and specific issues addressed in these submissions, which are intended to urge the committee members to propose positive action. Storrs-Fox emphasises just two of the more urgent initiatives required:

“Reports by IMO member states of container inspections are woefully few; just seven countries submitting reports this year. Furthermore, TT Club and ICHCA have submitted details of the Top 10 commodities that may lead or have led to incidents, not all of which are classified as dangerous goods. Understanding in detail the parameters in force for the various stakeholders involved with such cargoes should inform how advances in safety can be achieved.”

With the classification of certain potentially hazardous cargoes on the agenda, the Sub-Committee says that it will consider a newly identified phenomenon which affects some bauxite cargoes, known as dynamic separation, which can cause instability of the cargo and ship.

Also up for discussion is carriage of ammonium-nitrate based fertilizer. Potential problems have been identified following accidents involving the MV Purple Beach (2015) and MV Cheshire (2017). The recommendations arising from the investigation into the MV Cheshire, a case we covered recently, will be presented to the Sub-Committee. Proposals to amend the relevant schedules will be considered, for future inclusion in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, which is the industry rulebook on how to deal with such cargoes.

On other matters, the Sub-Committee is expected to consider matters relating to further development of the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), including the development of draft technical provisions for ships using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel and draft requirements for fuel cells. Also under development are draft interim guidelines on the application of high manganese austenitic steel for use in cryogenic applications such as cargo tanks, fuel tanks and piping of LNG carriers and LNG-fuelled ships.

The Sub-Committee will also discuss developing draft amendments to the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (CSS Code) related to weather-dependent lashing, aimed at ensuring the highest level of cargo securing, taking into account expected weather and other factors.