A vessel with 20,000 MT of iron ore fines listed immediately after its departure. The vessel continued to list to such dangerous levels and a decision was made by the Captain of the vessel to run the ship aground with complete knowledge and consciousness to prevent the vessel from capsizing.
A Look at the Consequences:
- Costly salvage operation under Lloyd’s Open Form
- Minor dents to the hull
- 6 weeks off hire
How to prevent this:
Such cargoes are generally stored without protection and taken out of the mines with substantial moisture. Due to rain, the wetness of the cargo increases. BC Code describes these goods as Group A Cargo.
Therefore, a cargo in Group A shall be tested and given a transportable moisture limit (TML) certificate.
What are the possible reasons for the incident:
- Either the TML certificates nor the certificates of moisture content were presented or checked
- The cargo was not properly tested prior to loading and during loading
- The high moisture content combined with vibrations of the main engine caused the cargo to liquefy
- The liquefied cargo started to shift shortly after departure
- Due to the list the cargo continued to shift and the list increased even more
- To protect the ship from capsizing the Captain grounded the ship about 3 nm outside the port of loading
- Never assume there is no risk of liquefaction simply because a cargo is not identified as ‘Group A’ in the BC Code.
- Proper queries should be done before loading every cargo that contains moisture and at least some fines and small particles.
- The Certificates:
- Certificates of moisture content and TML should be made available prior to shipment. Owners who consider to carry Cargo that risk liquefying shall confirm the same with the Charterers.
- If these certificates are not available at the load port, then the Captain should consider refusing the cargo and immediately notify owners, who in turn should contact the Club for advice.
- Any certificates provided should be checked to ensure that they are from a reliable source. These certificates may be issued by the mining company and are therefore subject to risk of incorrectness.
- Close examination and monitoring of the cargo is essential before loading as well as during loading operations. Even when the cargo appears to be dry, it may still contain moisture in excess of TML, but if it appears wet, or is stored in open conditions in rainy weather, then experience indicates that moisture content may well be above TML.
- A negative result from a can test described in section 8.3 of the BC Code (i.e. no free moisture or fluid condition is seen) does not necessarily mean that the cargo is safe for shipment. However, a positive result from such test, where moisture is seen, should leave the Captain in no doubt that further testing is required.
- Recommendations contained in the BC Code should be followed under any circumstance.
- In the rainy season pre-loading and loading surveys is recommended to be carried out.
- The main areas of concern are; India, China, Philippines, Indonesia, New Caledonia and other areas adjacent to these. However, members are recommended to exercise caution when loading such cargoes irrespective of area.
- If in any doubt, do not hesitate to contact the Club for advice.
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