In a note to customers in China, Hapag-Lloyd says it is implementing fines of US$15,000 per container on shippers with misdeclared hazardous cargo. The new fines system begins on September 15th.
Hapag-Lloyd adds that this is in “the overall interest of safe operation onboard.”
Also, “to ensure the safety of our crew, ships and other cargo onboard, Hapag-Lloyd holds the Shipper liable and responsible for all costs and consequences related to violations, fines, damages, incidents, claims and corrective measures resulting from cases of undeclared or misdeclared cargoes.”
On 3 January this year, a fire broke out in one container on the deck of the Yantian Express and spread to additional containers.
The incident happened approximately 1,015 miles northeast of Bermuda where the ship was en route from Colombo to Halifax via the Suez Canal.
The crew of eight officers and 14 seafarers were unharmed.
There is a growing number and variety of seaborne goods being transported in containers, including electronics and chemical products.
However, dangerous goods are not always properly declared, which can have dire consequences given larger vessel sizes.
The large size and capacity of container ships increases the risk of cargo misdeclaration.
The size of the vessel can make it harder to access a fire and impede attempts to extinguish it.
Preventing cargo fires saves lives and property at sea
Misdeclared cargo is thought to be the root cause of a number of fires.
According to insurance provider TT Club, estimates show the majority (66%) of cargo damage across freight modes, including container fires, is attributable to poor packing and labeling of dangerous materials.
Failure to properly offer and declare hazardous cargoes prior to shipment is a violation of the Hazardous Material Regulations.
Such violations may be subject to monetary fines and/or criminal prosecution under applicable law.