Casualties and Transparency

Safety of bulk carrier remains a priority objective of INTERCARGO.

Just before the publication of the INTERCARGO Bulk Carrier Casualty Report 2016 (click here to download), there was a tragic loss of the very large ore carrier (VLOC) “Stellar Daisy” reported on 31 March 2017, with 22 crew members still unaccounted for. INTERCARGO highlighted the need for casualty investigation reports to be submitted promptly to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Only when the causes of an incident have been identified can the appropriate corrective actions be implemented.

Since 1997 INTERCARGO has maintained a database of reported bulk carrier total losses which is used to perform an analysis of the casualty data. The analysis is submitted to the IMO annually as the Bulk Carrier Casualty Report.

The INTERCARGO database shows that from 2007 to 2016 there were 59 bulk carriers over 10,000 dwt identified as total losses. Over that 10 year period, cargo shift and liquefaction continued to be a great concern for the life of seafarers and the safe carriage of dry bulk cargoes. Among the 59 casualties, 9 of them were victims of cargo failure which consisted of 7 bulk carriers carrying nickel ore from Indonesia and 2 with laterite (clay) iron ore from India, and there were 101 lives lost associated with the 9 casualties of cargo failure against a total of 209 lives for all the 59 casualties.

With the adoption of amendments to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code by resolution MSC.354(92) on 21 Jun 2013, the Schedule for Nickel Ore becomes mandatory on 1 Jan 2015 together with the entry into force of the amendments. Under the mandatory IMSBC Code, Nickel ore is a Group A cargo, which may liquefy if shipped at a moisture content in excess of its transportable moisture limit.

With Bauxite cargoes, bulk carrier masters welcomed the issuance of the IMO circular CCC.1/Circ.2 on “Carriage of bauxite that may liquefy” on 20 Oct 2015; however other concerns have not been settled with a postponed process at IMO to make final decision on measures to ensure safe carriage of bauxite cargoes.

There were 24 losses due to grounding among the 59 in total reported bulk carrier casualties over the last 10 years. The IMO GISIS database showed by end January 2017 that 13 investigation reports of 24 losses had not been submitted by their flag States. Lessons learnt from past incidents play an important role in determining where additional safety improvement is necessary. The importance of flag States’ timely submission of casualty investigation reports to IMO should be stressed, as a means for identifying the cause of incidents and enabling corrective actions to be taken.

The meeting of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 4) in February 2017 made effort and progress to finalise the draft revised “Guidelines on Fatigue” in the annex of an IMO circular MSC/Circ.1014 dated 12 Jun 2001. The ever increasing pressure on crew on board to comply with regional and international requirements would require careful consideration at IMO. In relation to crews, on board fatigue issues need to be properly managed and sufficient time and energy ensured so that crews can concentrate on safe navigation and avoid incidents including vessel grounding.

INTERCARGO closely monitors, participates in, and contributes to the work of IMO and classification societies (IACS) on bulk carrier matters to ensure that the safety of bulk carriers and their cargoes is appropriately considered and continually enhanced. While the introduction of the mandatory provisions of the IACS CSR under IMO’s GBS framework has undoubtedly raised safety levels for the technical condition of bulk carriers, the industry will welcome further improvements, such as strengthening the IMSBC Code, as well as measures to safeguard a satisfactory working environment for crews to reduce navigational errors for a safer operation of bulk carriers.

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Download this file (Casualty Report 2016, final draft.pdf)Casualty Report 2016, final draft.pdf 1592 kB12-Jul-2017