Reduction in bulk carrier casualties

Between 2008 and 2017, there have been 53 losses of bulk carrier of 10,000 tonne deadweight and above with casualties of 202 seafarers.

Between 2008 and 2017 there have been 53 losses of bulk carrier of 10,000 tonne deadweight and above with casualties of 202 seafarers.
Importantly, analysis of INTERCARGO’s casualty records from 1994 to the present day indicates a gradual improvement over the years in terms of numbers of lives and ships lost.
INTERCARGO has submitted its latest Bulk Carrier Casualty Report to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  The report provides an analysis of bulk carrier total casualties between 2008 to 2017.
Certainly, the bulk carrier industry recognises the many contributing factors to this safety improvement.  These include the following.

  • Introduction of adequate safety requirements by the IMO flag States
  • Roles of International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), Port State Control (PSC) regimes
  • Best practices and large investments by the bulk carrier industry.

No room for complacency

There is no room for complacency. Therefore, further work needs to be done in order to continue the trends with the ultimate goal of no lives or ships lost.
In March 2017, the sinking of M/V Stellar Daisy, carrying iron ore, resulted in the tragic loss of 22 seafarers.
The Search And Rescue (SAR) efforts in response to this sinking are to be praised.  However, in its aftermath the shipping community should be concerned about the non-availability of sufficient SAR capabilities in the vicinity of busy shipping lanes around the world and revisit this issue.
In October 2017 the sinking of M/V Emerald Star, loaded with nickel ore, claimed the lives of 10 seafarers.

Finding answers

Above all, the industry expects that the full investigation reports will provide answers and highlight the lessons to be learnt from these losses.
The Bulk Carrier Casualty Report 2017 again highlights that cargo failure, including moisture related cargo failure mechanisms, is one of the greatest concerns for the safe carriage of dry bulk over the past 10 years.  It is likely the cause of the loss of 101 seafarers’ lives and 9 vessel losses.
The incident onboard the 57,000 dwt MV Cheshire in August 2017 involving high temperatures in the cargo holds.  Hence, the release of gases from the cargo again raised serious concerns with the carriage of ammonium nitrate based fertiliser.
Therefore, the industry welcomed the issuance of the IMO circular CCC.1/Circ.4 on “Carriage of Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilizer (non-hazardous)” on 22 Sept 2017.
However bulk carrier owners and masters are expecting prompt and clear mandatory safety requirements to avoid recurrence of the M/V Cheshire and M/V Purple Beach incidents.
Finally, an analysis of bulk carrier incidents in 2016 and 2017 gives the most common ones in both years.

  • Machinery and technical
  • Main engine
  • Grounding
  • Collision
  • Allision

The preliminary findings direct the attention of all stakeholders to ship safety issues related to the human element and leading to grounding and collision, as well as to equipment failures.
Download full report here.

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