Intercargo: Cargo Liquefaction Still a Major Risk for Dry Bulk Shipping

Moisture related cargo failure mechanisms, known as liquefaction, continue to be a major concern for dry bulk shipping, according to the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo).

Illustration. Image Courtesy: Pxhere under CC0 Creative Commons license

Although there has been no reported loss of life or loss of ship attributed to liquefaction in 2018, Intercargo urged all stakeholders to remain vigilant as cargo liquefaction continues to pose a major threat to the life of seafarers.

The association said that the latest amendment to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC 04-17) entered into force on January 1, 2019 and includes important updates related to cargoes that may liquefy.

Pertinent updates include changes to section 4.5 of the Code which stipulates the shippers’ responsibility to ensure that the testing and sampling for Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) and moisture content is carried out at the correct intervals, changes to the individual coal schedule which strengthen and clarify the designation of coal as Group A and B cargo, and the inclusion of a new test procedure for determining the TML of coal.

“Ship operators need to be especially cautious when loading during a wet season, as currently being experienced in certain parts of South East Asia, however, it is paramount that the shippers and the local authorities fulfill their obligations as required by the IMSBC Code.”

Intercargo’s annually produced casualty report highlights the tragic loss of life associated with liquefaction. The last report for the years 2008-2017 showed that 101 lives and 9 bulk carriers were likely lost due to cargo failure. Those 9 bulk carrier losses comprised 6 vessels loaded with nickel ore from Indonesia, 2 vessels with laterite (clay) iron ore from India, and 1 with bauxite from Malaysia.