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Incidents & Casualties


The INTERCARGO Bulk Carrier Casualty Report 2020 provides an analysis of casualty statistics covering years 2011 to 2020. Thirty four (34) bulk carriers with 128 seafarers were reported lost ver that period.

Moisture related failure mechanisms such as liquefaction and dynamic separation remain a major concern of dry bulk shipping. On 17 December 2020, a general cargo ship was reported missing off Phu Quy island, southern Vietnam, due to suspected problems with the 7,800 tons of clay cargo carried. Among the total 34 losses covered by this report, there were five casualties with suspected cargo failure, resulting in the loss of 61 seafarer lives. These consisted of three bulk carriers carrying nickel ore from Indonesia, one vessel with iron ore fines (assumed to be laterite) loaded from Malaysia, with high moisture content, and one vessel with bauxite from Malaysia.

Learning lessons from incidents of this kind, 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. Focused training will prepare the crew with adequate knowledge and skills to handle a specific cargo and voyage type and enhance effective teamwork
on board. Continued focus on safety awareness and understanding of safety measures helps to close gaps in understanding and reduces the potential for similar very serious marine casualties involving bulk and ore carriers. The industry should not shy away from making bold changes to ship design in order to further improve the safety and survivability of dry bulk vessels. Flag state
reports of casualties must question and strive to alter existing SOLAS, MARPOL, LOADLINE and other conventions if crew lives are to be saved.

The global COVID-19 pandemic resulted in 2020 being a challenging and difficult year for the bulk carrier sector. It was also a year when seafarers of all nationalities faced extended time on board due to crew change problems, resulting in the danger of fatigue and mental stress. Despite these difficulties, crews continued to serve the world’s needs by ensuring the smooth running of the global bulk carrier fleet transporting vital goods across the world.

Difficulties of crew change from the early stage of the pandemic and the extension of employment onboard, may lead to possible higher level of fatigue and depression of those crew concerned; as consequence, to impact on general safety performance onboard. INTERCARGO and its members are monitoring and collecting data, including the background of near-miss cases, to assess the impact of COVID-19 and identify additional or enhance existing incident prevention measures.