Wrongly-declared cargo ‘causes a quarter of all ship incidents’

[ August 22, 2016   //   ]

More than a quarter of incidents on ships are caused by mis-declared cargo, says UK P&I Club risk assessor David Nichol.

He reports that data captured by the container-shipping lines’ Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS) in 2013/14 indicates that 27% of incidents for which the cause was detected were attributable to cargo being mis-declared, second only to poor packaging.

He said: “It is imperative for the safety of the ship and crew that all necessary steps are taken to handle and stow dangerous goods in such a way that reduces the risk of an emergency incident and that, in the event of fire, the crew have the information they need to respond quickly with the appropriate fire-fighting measures. To enable this, a ship’s master must be provided with a correct, universally recognised description of the goods and the potential hazards they may present.”

Taking one example, calcium hypochlorite, an oxidizing agent that can cause fires and explosions at high temperatures, has been mis-declared as calcium chloride, bleaching powder, disinfectant, Hy-chlor, Chloride of lime or Chlorinated lime.

Nichol added: “It is a requirement of the IMDG Code that cargoes are declared by their ‘Proper Shipping Name’, to combat issues of mis-declaration. Calcium hypochlorite is a Proper Shipping Name and as such should only be carried under that name with the appropriate UN number.”

The International Group of P&I Clubs and CINS shipping line members have recently produced a new set of guidelines for the carriage of calcium hypochlorite in containers.