Iron Ore Fines Cargo Unsuitable for Shipment Already Aboard
Suspect cargo should be sampled by an independent laboratory and, if found to be beyond its TML, then the safest option is to discharge the cargo. This sounds simple but unfortunately experience has shown that once a vessel has loaded wet iron ore fines it can be highly problematic for the vessel. A loaded cargo is regarded as being exported by the customs and excise
authority, and this immediately creates
bureaucratic difficulties for unloading. When combined with commercial reluctance on the part of the shippers and ports to accept/unload the unsuitable cargo the delays and costs that a vessel can experience may be considerable and can, in the worst cases, last for months. There may also be damage to valuable commercial
should such a dispute arise. It is always best for the vessel’s safety and in the owner’s interest that iron ore fines unsuitable for shipment are identified before they come onboard.
Liquefied Iron Ore Fines in a Cargo Hold
Cargo Liquefying Whilst at Sea Despite the provisions of SOLAS, IMSBC and BLU codes it is still
the case that cargo unsuitable for
transportation is loaded and carried. In recent years there have been a number of incidents involving the loss of vessels and of life that have been attributed to liquefaction of the cargo onboard. 2009 was a particularly bad year for vessels carrying iron ore fines from Indian ports with at least three vessel carrying this cargo having been lost. There have also been numerous instances of vessels losing stability, but not capsizing, which are known to have been caused by liquefaction.
The ISM Code amendments coming into force on 01 July 2010 require that potentially hazardous situations are risk assessed and have procedures in place to deal with the situation should it occur. Clearly liquefaction places the vessel in a hazardous situation and procedures to deal with liquefaction should be developed.
Once liquefaction of a cargo has taken place at sea a vessel and its crew may be in very real danger.
Whilst every such situation will have its own unique set of circumstances as a minimum owners/vessels should
• Ensure that detailed stability calculations are carried out before departure from the load port for every cargo loaded. The calculations will then serve as baseline data in the event of a liquefaction incident.
• The master must immediately notify owners. Owners should seek the advice of an expert in these circumstances. The likely effect of ballasting the vessel to correct a vessel’s list needs to be calculated and carefully considered before any such operation takes place. Incorrect ballasting may exacerbate the situation causing a further reduction in stability. Even where ballasting has taken place and is successful in returning a vessel upright the cargo onboard is still in a dangerous state.
• It may be necessary to seek the nearest suitable port of refuge.
North of England P&I Association, The Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DU, UK Tel: +44 191 232 5221 Fax: +44 191 261 0540 Email: loss.pr
Copyright © North of England P&I Association 2010
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