EXCLUSIVE: Staying safe with dangerous goods onboard ships

Lee Kok Leong, our special correspondent, talks to Ken Rohlmann, Senior Director Dangerous Goods, at Hapag-Lloyd to find out more about handling and shipping dangerous goods.

Ken is also the vice chairman of the board of Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS), a shipping line initiative, launched in September 2011.  CINS aims to increase safety in the supply chain, reduce the number of cargo incidents on-board ships and highlight the risks caused by certain cargoes and/or packing failures.

50 years ago, in March 1969, Hapag and Norddeutscher Lloyd set up a mutual Dangerous Goods department and became the first shipping lines with a dedicated team for safety and security on board and on land.

When the companies merged in September 1970, and became Hapag-Lloyd, the safe transportation of Dangerous Goods was already an important market segment for the new shipping line.

Currently, the company has more than 80 employees globally who exclusively take care of Dangerous and Sensitive Goods and make sure they adhere to all of the latest safety standards.

Corporate Fair Trade Community (CFTC): What do you think is the general economic outlook for the Asia and Middle East shipping industry?

Hapag-Lloyd (HL): IHS Global Insight is expecting stable volume growth across major trade lanes including Asia and Middle East.

CFTC: What is the outlook for the dangerous goods market?

HL: On average, we have seen double digit growth in Dangerous Goods over the last five years. In 2018, we transported roughly 480,000 TEU of Dangerous Goods and are confident that we will see further development in this market going ahead.

CFTC: What trends do you see for the future of maritime transportation of dangerous goods?

HL: When it comes to Dangerous Goods, Hapag-Lloyd is following the demand of its customers. We have been experiencing steady growth in demand over the last years and expect no change in this development over the coming years.

CFTC: In 2016, Hapag-Lloyd reported a 65 percent increase of incorrectly declared dangerous goods.  Since then, what is the trend like?  

HL: On average, we have confirmed around 3,000 un- or mis-declared bookings annually from the years 2015 to 2018.

CFTC: What do you do about mis-declared or undeclared dangerous goods?

HL: Mis- or undeclared cargo is a known problem, that Hapag-Lloyd has decided to tackle proactively. In 2011, Hapag-Lloyd has launched the “Cargo Patrol” to scan all incoming non-Dangerous-Goods bookings to automatically help identify possibly undeclared or suspicious cargo.

Hapag-Lloyd’s goal is to make the shipping of dangerous goods as safe as possible across the entire industry.

To do this, Hapag-Lloyd has set out to share our knowledge amongst other shipping lines and organizations.

Since 2017, IBM has included Cargo Patrol into its portfolio and is offering it to all parties across the Industry.

CFTC: At Hapag-Lloyd, what are some of the key best practices in regards to dangerous goods, that go beyond international requirements and legal obligations?

HL: Hapag-Lloyd has very strict internal stowage guidelines for Dangerous Goods that very often go beyond what is legally required by the IMDG Code (International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code).

The company is also inspecting Dangerous Goods containers on a very structured way and roughly 20% of all of declared Dangerous Goods containers undergo a physical container inspection before being loaded.

Every Dangerous Goods booking also goes through three rigorous checks, each with a four-eye principle.

CFTC: In your opinion, why do you think Hapag-Lloyd is the industry leader?

HL: Our 50 years of experience, combined with experts around in liner shipping.

We also ensure an additional layer of security with our internal regulations and multiple safety checks on land and at sea.

Furthermore, Hapag-Lloyd’s Dangerous Goods experts take the final legal responsibility for the stowage on board the vessel.

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Giving feedback on IMO 2020

To support smooth implementation, the IMO Secretariat has set up a dedicated hotline email address for any queries from Member States and the shipping industry as the regulation comes into effect.