The recent tragic loss of the 2005-built supramax bulk carrier Vinalines Queen and 22 of its crew again underlines the urgent need for greater enforcement of regulations and testing of cargoes that may liquefy.
The ship, which was reportedly carrying a cargo of nickel ore from Morowali, Indonesia to China, was reported missing on 25 December, considered lost.
Back in December 2010 following the loss of 3 bulk carriers and 44 crew in short succession, all owing to cargo liquefaction, Intercargo took the opportunity to remind the industry of the dangers associated with the carriage of hazardous cargoes – however the loss of the Vinalines Queen demonstrates that the message still isn’t getting through.
Speaking of the loss, Secretary General of Intercargo, Rob Lomas said “we’ve previously called on shippers and cargo interests to conduct an urgent review into the testing and safety processes involved in shipping of hazardous cargoes, following the spate of accidents and fatalities in 2010, but clearly more needs to be urgently done to stop this appalling unnecessary loss of life”.
“Sadly, it seems that some shipowners still do not have the relevant experience or knowledge in interpreting the IMSBC Code and are accepting cargoes which are unsafe. But we need to receive the reassurances of the Competent Authorities in the exporting countries that their procedures and processes have integrity and transparency so that this message is received and most importantly, trusted by the shipowners. Competent Authorities are key to ensuring that seafarer’s lives are not put in danger”.
Intercargo continues to work through IMO to protect the safety of seafarers and their ships. At the 16th Session of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and
Containers (DSC) in September 2011, Intercargo worked with P&I, IUMI and other Round Table industry associations to help strengthen and clarify the requirements of the IMSBC Code, and in particular the need for accurate information relating to the carriage of cargoes that may liquefy, such as nickel ore.
In addition, Intercargo will participate in the IMSBC Code Editorial and Technical Group in March 2012 where a prepared schedule for nickel ore is to be further reviewed and considered, before inclusion in the IMSBC Code at the forthcoming DSC 17 in September.
1.Intercargo represents 160 bulk carrier owners (vessels engaged in the transport of dry bulk commodities such as coal, grain and iron ore) and associates. With Non-Governmental Organisation status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Intercargo’s objective is the creation of a “safe, efficient and environmentally friendly” dry cargo sector.
2.Intercargo, founded in 1980, works within the Round Table of international maritime associations comprising of BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping, Intercargo and Intertanko.
3.IMO is the United Nations specialised agency with responsibility for safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
4.Intercargo publishes an annual “Benchmarking Bulk Carriers” report including casualty information. This shows that generally, the number of bulk carrier accidents peaked in the 1980s with a downward trend since then.