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Thirty-nine bulk carriers with 173 seafarers were reported lost in the decade 2010 to 2019, according to Intercargo data based on available reports of total losses and constructive total losses from public sources and Imo’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS).

Though the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners remains critical of the time lapse between a casualty and release of the formal incident information report, Intercargo opens its report by saying: “The loss of the bulk carrier Nur Allya, in August 2019, cast a shadow over the industry’s excellent safety performance throughout the previous year, during which no bulk carrier casualties were reported.”

But, “This incident alone clearly demonstrates there is no room for complacency, and Intercargo calls for a prompt and thorough investigation into this tragic loss. It is only through effective root cause analysis that appropriate corrective actions can be put in place to ensure that such an accident never happens again.”

The dry bulk carrier casualty report for 2019 reveals cargo shift and/or liquefaction is one of the greatest concerns for the safe carriage of dry bulk over the past 10 years. Indeed, Intercargo concludes cargo shift / liquefaction is likely to be the main reason behind eight bulk carrier casualties – 20.5% of the total -- and 106 seafarers over 62% of those losing their lives.

The most common reported cause of ship losses has been grounding, with 17 losses. Losses due to flooding accounted for five ships, and four ships were lost due to unknown causes, accounting for 35 lives. Average age of the bulkers lost over the decade was 20.9 years and they amounted to 2.59m dwt, or an average of 259,000dwt a year.

Intercargo stresses “lessons learned from past incidents play an important role in determining where additional safety improvement is necessary”. It then points out that by the end of January 2020 only 62% or 24 of the 39 bulk carrier losses, covered in the report have had investigation reports made available on Imo GISIS. Saying the “industry finds this difficult to accept” Intercargo noted the average time from an incident to a report becoming available has been 32 months for these investigations.

The association welcomes the latest amendment to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC 05-19), which will enter into force January 1, 2021. The Code incorporates the lessons learned from the loss of the Bulk Jupiter (January 2015) which was carrying a cargo of bauxite fines.

According to the Code: “This cargo may suffer instability due to moisture content resulting in dynamic separation and formation of a liquid slurry (water and fine solids) above the solid material, leading to a free surface effect which may significantly affect the ship’s stability. This cargo is not liable to undergo dynamic separation when the cargo is shipped below its TML [transportable moisture limit]’ (Res MSC.462(101), adopted on 13 June 2019).” The investigation into the sinking of the Stellar Daisy (March 2017) found she foundered due to a structural failure in the No. 2 port side water ballast tank that initiated progressive structural failure within the cargo length and caused a total loss of buoyancy. Imo is expected to consider additional measures for bulk carrier safety in Solas chapter XII, and the 2011 International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers (2011 ESP Code). These measures are aimed at closing gaps that were identified and reducing the potential for similar very serious marine casualties involving bulk and ore carriers.

Filed: 2020-05-04