INTERCARGO continues to have concerns regarding the misdeclaration of cargo by shippers/receivers – the catastrophic consequences of which are well documented. In addition, INTERCARGO is also troubled by the lack of public availability of accident investigation reports.
The International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, stipulating the carriage requirements for cargoes, clearly lays out the responsibilities of the various stakeholders in the distribution chain, including the specific information about the cargo that should be provided to the Master. With this information the Master is able to make informed decisions on the safe carriage of the cargo which in turn enables the safety of the crew and the vessel. Unfortunately, all too often, cases of cargo mis-declaration (including falsification of laboratory reports) or suspicion of mis-declaration are being reported through official or unofficial channels, this is particularly true of Group A cargoes.
Group A cargoes are those cargoes that may undergo a moisture related cargo failure mechanism such as liquefaction and dynamic separation. In August 2019 liquefaction was the suspected cause for the loss of the Nur Allya, laden with nickel ore. 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. More recently the general cargo ship Xin Hong issued a distress signal and reported cargo shift and developing list, it was reported that the vessel was carrying clay, a cargo deemed not to liquefy.
Learning lessons from incidents and sharing of experience have proven to be effective approaches to raise safety awareness and to deepen the understanding and knowledge of the existing rules, regulations and skills.
Between 2011 and the end of Jan 2021, only 20 of the 34 reported bulk carrier losses have had investigation reports made available on IMO’s GISIS database, representing 58.8% of the total. Although the average time from incident to a report becoming available has been 16 months for these investigations, in some cases reports from up to 10 years ago are still not available. It is clear that there is a need for improvements in Flag State reporting.