Significant Safety Improvements in Dry Bulk Shipping Sector


•    There is now a clear 10-year trend showing significant improvements in safety across the dry bulk shipping sector.
•    In 2023 there was one loss of a dry bulk vessel and no loss of lives.
•    Safety improvements have been achieved despite the dry bulk fleet growing by 20% more in tonnage over the past decade.

Annual casualty figures from INTERCARGO, the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners, highlight continuing improvement in the safety performance of the sector. The Association’s Bulk Carrier Casualty Report records the yearly loss of vessels* and lives across the dry bulk sector, to monitor the impact of safety measures in the sector across the globe, according to an article published on their website.

Bulk carrier fleet

The bulk carrier fleet has grown significantly in recent years to cater to the world’s growing economy. Between 2014 and 2023 the number of vessels increased by 20% (to 12,200 according to the statistics used for the report), with today’s bulk fleet representing more than 40% of world tonnage and carrying an estimated 55% of the global transport work. Despite the fleet growth, encouraging statistics show that the loss of vessels continues to fall.

Naturally, areas of concern remain including cargo liquefaction or other moisture-related cargo failure mechanisms, which pose the greatest risk to life, contributing to the loss of 55 lives or 61.8% of the total loss of life over the past 10 years. Groundings remain the biggest cause of ship losses. Enhancement of safety awareness by all parties, and especially the need for stakeholders to provide ships’ crews with the correct cargo characteristics details, remains a priority to reduce casualties even further.

The reduction in incidents, as revealed in the Report, can be attributed to continual safety improvements implemented by ship operators in tandem with enhanced legislation within the sector. A significant contributing factor to the safety performance of bulk carriers is the development and implementation of an improved international regulatory framework.  As a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) within the International Maritime Organization (IMO), INTERCARGO is proud to have played an important part in the development of this legislation. The adoption of new technology to improve ship design is also a major causal factor.

INTERCARGO has vowed to continue working tirelessly with all stakeholders to improve bulk carrier safety and ultimately strive for the day when there are zero losses of dry bulk ships and seafarers every year. We also point out that the pandemic and recent geopolitical events have generated new challenges for ship and crew safety. INTERCARGO is closely monitoring and voicing its members’ concerns in all available fora.

The full report can be found here.

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