Gard warns of liquefaction risks of unlisted cargoes Ship’s crew

P&I Club Gard warning on the risk of liquefaction of cargoes not listed as Group A cargoes in the IMSBC Code and referred to recent incidents of liquefaction occurring on ships carrying such cargoes, endangering the crew and the environment.

Group A cargoes may liquify if transported at a moisture content above their transportable moisture limit (TML).

In one incident, a ship carrying over 1,900 tons of soil from a landfill landed on the dump and eventually sank due to wind and waves, causing the cargo to behave like liquid during transit. The crew was rescued and authorities ordered the oil removed from the wreck. An investigation by the Norwegian Safety Investigation Board (NSIA) concluded that moisture in some of the cargo and soil taken on board likely contributed to the incident.

In another case, a cargo of calcium carbonate not specifically listed in the IMSBC code resulted in a vessel making a list shortly after leaving the port of loading. The cargo had a moisture content of over 30%, exceeding both the TML of 24% and the Flow Moisture Point (FMP) of 26.7%, making it unsafe for shipment. The charge had not been tested for flow properties, and laboratory tests later confirmed it was Group A. Particle size distribution (PSD) analysis revealed that the material consisted entirely of particles less than 2 mm in size.

Unlisted loads

Gard points out that while the IMSBC is not a comprehensive database of all goods that may be carried on ships, the code does provide guidance on how to deal with unlisted cargoes, including obtaining acceptance from the competent authority in the port of loading. However, Gard warns that these provisions can be difficult to put into practice and that proposals are being formulated to improve the tripartite agreement. Members who are under economic pressure to load unlisted cargo without acceptance are asked to contact the club.

Bulk Shipping Names (BCSN)

Gard reminds shippers that section 4.2.2 of the IMSBC Code requires shippers to use the BCSN when listing cargo and that trade names should only be used as secondary names. This ensures that the captain can certify that the cargo conforms to the characteristics listed in the code. If the charge does not match the description in the Code, the club should be consulted. Members are advised to request the correct BCSN or permit from the appropriate authority when shippers present shipping documents without them.

Ultimately, Gard emphasizes that you know your load to reduce your risk. Understanding cargo characteristics and risks is critical to security screening, especially when the crew is unknown, Gard says.

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