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Bulk Carrier Casualty Report 2019

The loss of the bulk carrier Nur Allya in August 2019 cast a shadow over the industry’s excellent safety performance throughout the previous year, during which no bulk carrier casualties were reported. This incident alone clearly demonstrates that there is no room for complacency, and INTERCARGO calls for a prompt and thorough investigation into this tragic loss. It is only through effective root cause analysis that appropriate corrective actions can be put in place to ensure that such an accident never happens again.

Lessons learned from past incidents play an important role in determining where additional safety improvements are necessary both at an industry and an international level. To this end the prompt publication of thorough and complete casualty investigation reports remains a key objective of the industry. It is vitally important that casualty investigation reports are submitted to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in a timely manner so that the root causes of serious incidents can be properly identified and the appropriate corrective actions taken.

The industry finds it difficult to accept that only 24, or about 62%, of a total of 39 bulk carrier losses had their investigation reports made available on the IMO Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) database at the end of January 2020. The average time from incident to a report becoming available has been 32 months for these investigations.

Cargo failure and liquefaction continue to be a major concern for dry bulk shipping. Between 2010 and 2019, among the 39 losses above, there were eight casualties with suspected cargo failure. These consisted of six bulk carriers carrying nickel ore from Indonesia, one vessel with iron ore fines (assumed to be laterite) loaded with high moisture content from Malaysia, and one vessel with bauxite from Malaysia. Significantly, against the total of 173 lives lost in all 39 casualties, 106 of these were lives lost from the eight casualties with cargo failure.

INTERCARGO welcomes the latest amendment to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC 05-19), which will enter into force on 1 January 2021. The Code incorporates the lessons learned from the loss of the Bulk Jupiter which was carrying a cargo of bauxite fines. According to the Code ‘This cargo may suffer instability due to moisture content resulting in dynamic separation and formation of a liquid slurry (water and fine solids) above the solid material, leading to a free surface effect which may significantly affect the ship’s stability. This cargo is not liable to undergo dynamic separation when the cargo is shipped below its TML [transportable moisture limit]’ (Res MSC.462(101), adopted on 13 June 2019).

The investigation into the sinking of the Stellar Daisy (March 2017) found that she foundered due to a structural failure in the No. 2 port side water ballast tank that initiated progressive structural failure within the cargo length and caused a total loss of buoyancy. The IMO is expected to consider additional measures for bulk carrier safety in Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) chapter XII, and the 2011 International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers (2011 ESP Code). These measures are aimed at closing gaps that were identified and reducing the potential for similar very serious marine casualties involving bulk and ore carriers.

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