Eugen Maersk fire revives concerns about misdeclared cargo

A valid concern regarding the declaration and stowage of cargo on container ships.. There have been far too many incidents of late relating to ship accidents as can be seen from below infographic provided courtesy of WWF..
accidents_at_sea_infographic_final_01

Carrier investigates whether box contents listed as household goods were hazardous.

A FIRE that broke out this week in a container on the 15,500 teu Eugen Maersk has raised fresh concerns about cargo misdeclarations.
Eugen maersk containership

The contents of the damaged container and of four others that caught fire were declared as household goods, Maersk said. None should have contained any hazardous materials.

Maersk now plans to investigate whether the contents were as described.

The blaze happened when the ship was in the Gulf of Aden heading from Asia to Europe. Eugen Maersk is now berthed in Djibouti where the affected containers will be offloaded before the vessel continues its voyage.

The incident occurred around the time that the 8,110 teu MOL Comfort broke in two during a storm off the coast of Yemen.

Although the cause of the casualty may not be known for some time, industry experts said investigators would consider whether wrongly declared or poorly stowed cargo contributed to the incident or whether loading systems could have been a factor.

A combination of stress on the hull during the storm, plus containers loaded in the wrong part of the ship because of inaccurate cargo information, could have put the vessel at risk, said one source.

The MOL Comfort casualty is reminiscent of another containership incident in 1997. The 2,860 teu MSC Carlabroke in two off the Canary Islands, but in that case the ship had been lengthened and the fracture occurred close to the weld line.

More recently, a mid-Atlantic blaze severely damaged the containership MSC Flaminia last year, killing three crew. The fire is thought to have started in a container in the hold, adding to industry worry about cargo safety.

New information from the Cargo Incident Notification System group, which compiles data covering cargo-related incidents, shows that its 14 members reported 29 onboard fires or explosions last year.

“That is enormous — imagine if that had been the air cargo industry; every plane would be grounded until the problem was solved,” CINS founder and former chairman Dirk Vande Velde told Lloyd’s List.

“In our industry, it seems to be acceptable — that cannot be right.”

The CINS group, set up in mid-2011 to compile facts and figures based on industry-wide information to present to shippers, cargo handlers, equipment manufacturers, insurers, safety regulators and other stakeholders, hopes to raise awareness of the risks some people are taking with other people’s lives.

Its latest data, covering a period of around 18 months to April, shows that poor packing accounted for 30% of incidents, followed by 24% for misdeclarations.

Broken down by incident type, leakage was apparent in 46% of incidents, followed by misdeclarations at 24%. Fire-related accidents made up 6% of the total and explosions 2%.

Tank-container manufacturers have already responded to the findings, recognising that there is a safety issue to confront.

CINS is gaining members; the lines that submit incident reports represent more than half the world’s slot capacity.

The initiative was started by Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Co, CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd, Hamburg Süd and Zim in mid-2011, working with the International Group of P&I Clubs and mutual insurer the TT Club.

Others have since joined and more members are imminent following a meeting hosted by Evergreen in Taipei this month.

The latest analysis by CINS and the TT Club covers around 600 incidents since they began to compile accident reports, aggregated on a confidential basis.

In a statement following the Taipei meeting, CINS said a key finding “and a concern for all liner carriers” is that 24% of the cases involved misdeclared cargo, mostly comprising dangerous goods.

“This is probably the first time that this iceberg risk has been quantified,” it said.

“It is findings like this that display the potential for the CINS organisation to have cogent dialogue with enforcement agencies, competent authorities and the International Maritime Organization in order to lead to, and support, relevant changes in legislation or other safe practice recommendations.”

Article reproduced from : http://www.lloydsloadinglist.com

Whether this accident was caused by hazardous cargo or any other reason will only be known at a later stage, but its a good time to review below articles and remind ourselves of our responsibilities..

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