The safe carriage of cargoes is the cornerstone of the bulk carrier trade and also of the wider shipping industry. It is vital that all stakeholders are diligent in their duties and this is especially true of cargo owners who are obliged under international Conventions to correctly declare cargoes. This vital link in the supply chain allows the various parties and most importantly the ship owners/operators to make the correct decisions on how and whether to carry a cargo.
The carriage requirements are laid out in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. The latest revision of the IMSBC Code incorporates amendmen t05-19 , which entered into force on 01 January 2021, and inludes a number of important updates with two of the most significant being the new ‘Group A Cargo Bauxite Fines’ and the introduction of the recently identified moisture failure mechanism, ‘dynamic separation’.
Discussions at IMO on the next amendments to the Code, 06-21, had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the discussions are scheduled to resume in 2021 and should agree on a new definition of Group A cargoes.
Moisture related cargo failure mechanisms such as liquefaction and dynamic separation continue to be a concern for INTERCARGO and its members. Liquefaction was suspected in the loss of the Nur Allya, laden with nickel ore, in August 2019; and more recently in August 2020, the bulk carrier Zhong Chang He Sheng, also laden with nickel ore, reported liquefaction of its cargo and issued a distress signal
due to a risk of capsizing. These cases clearly show the challenges being faced by ships and their crews.
INTERCARGO is hopeful that in the not too distant future the various parties will fulfil their obligations, such as declaring cargoes correctly and carrying out accident investigations in a prompt manner, thus enabling essential safety improvements to be made.