By Captain Rahul Khanna, World Head of Maritime Threat Consulting, Allianz International Company & Specialty
June 7, 2022
Professional insurance company Allianz International Company & Specialty unveiled its Basic safety & Shipping and delivery Review, an yearly examination of delivery losses and mishaps around the world. The 2022 report reveals that the maritime sector continues its lengthy-term positive security trend more than the past 12 months with 54 whole losses of vessels reported globally, in comparison with 65 a calendar year earlier. This signifies a 57% drop over 10 decades (127 in 2012) although throughout the early 1990s the world-wide fleet was shedding 200+ vessels a calendar year.
The 2021 reduction complete is manufactured extra extraordinary by the actuality that there are an estimated 130,000 ships in the worldwide fleet today, compared with some 80,000 30 years in the past. These development demonstrates the greater target on safety measures over time by means of teaching and protection applications, enhanced ship style and design, know-how and regulation.
On the other hand, the marketplace is not without having its difficulties. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, expensive concerns involving bigger vessels, crew and port congestion and handling decarbonization targets, suggests there is no home for complacency.
An additional growing challenge going through the transport field is hearth on significant vessels, which remains a critical lead to of major losses, requiring urgent motion to increase vessel safety. A fireplace on board motor vehicle carrier Felicity Age, beginning in February 2022, led to the vessel sinking in the Atlantic Ocean, alongside with its cargo of 4,000 cars. The incident transpired a lot less than a single year soon after a fireplace led to the sinking of the large container ship X-Push Pearl in May well 2021 off Sri Lanka.
Catastrophic fires on massive vessels commonly start off with flamable cargo, which then spreads quickly and outpaces the firefighting abilities of the crew. The measurement and layout of huge vessels would make fireplace detection and fighting extra hard than classic shipping, and after crew are forced to abandon ship, unexpected emergency response and salvage operations turn into extra intricate and pricey, and the risk of a major or complete reduction will increase.
No enable-up in container ship hearth frequency
Fires on board big container ships are a top concern for marine insurers as a escalating number of incidents keep on to produce big losses. The Protection & Transport Overview investigation displays there have been above 70 claimed fires on board container ships by yourself in the previous 5 decades, which includes incidents this kind of as the Yantian Categorical (2019), and the Maersk Honam (2018), which produced headlines close to the environment. A lot more lately, a fire broke out on board the big container ship Zim Kingston in Oct 2021 after a container of dangerous merchandise was damaged in a storm.
There have also been quite a few in the vicinity of misses. In 2021, a container of flammable products and solutions prompted a huge hearth and explosion at Dubai’s Jebel Ali port. Protection and indemnity insurance provider Gard estimates that there was at minimum a person fireplace involving containerized cargo each and every two months in 2020.
Fires can take keep rapidly and unfold rapidly, yet container ship crews are comparatively modest in range, whilst detecting, locating and accessing a fire in a stack of containers is time-consuming. Fireplace-combating equipment presently required under the Global Conference for the Protection of Life at Sea (SOLAS) suggests crew confront appreciable threats when tackling a container hearth, and are typically unable to do so successfully.
Decreasing the danger of fire on board massive container ships will have to have a blend of regulatory action and business initiatives, and there are encouraging signs that these are underway. Next proposals by insurers, ship owners’ associations and the flag states of Germany and Bahamas, the Global Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) Maritime Basic safety Committee agreed previous yr to amend SOLAS with the purpose of enhancing fireplace detection and battling capabilities on new container ships. Though the review was held up by Covid-19, the amendments are predicted to enter into drive on January 1, 2028.
On the other hand, with the regulatory modifications some many years absent, the emphasis will be on the transport marketplace to tackle the difficulty in the brief time period. We now have ships that are just about much too massive for the crew to struggle fires correctly. There requirements to be an urgent critique of hearth detection and battling protections and products on board large container ships.
Cargo mis-declaration at coronary heart of problem
Addressing a root cause for fires on board container ships is important to fixing the challenge.
A range of blazes at sea in latest decades have been traced back again to flamable or mis-declared cargos in containers, like batteries, charcoal and chemical substances these types of as calcium hypochlorite, an component in cleaning goods.
In March 2022, the US Coast Guard (USCG) issued a protection inform about the danger posed by lithium batteries pursuing two separate container fires brought on by mis-declared cargo. The very first, saw a shipping container waiting to be loaded onto a container ship certain for China capture hearth. According to the USCG, the expenses of lading indicated that the container was carrying ‘synthetic resins’ when, in simple fact, it held applied lithium-ion batteries.
In a related incident in August 2021, a container total of discarded lithium batteries caught hearth although becoming transported by street to the Port of Virginia, the place it was due to be loaded onto a container ship. The cargo was mis-declared as ‘computer parts’. These incidents would have been potentially “catastrophic” experienced the containers caught fire immediately after remaining loaded aboard the container ships, the USCG reported.
It is estimated that around 10% of all containers loaded on board ships incorporate declared perilous cargo. Even so, close to 5% of containers transported consists of undeclared hazardous items — either owing to administrative error or getting intentionally mis-declared. For instance, this would equate to 1,000 teu or additional of undeclared perilous cargo on board a 24,000 teu extremely-significant container vessel.
In 2019, the Worldwide Union of Marine Insurance coverage (IUMI) and other stakeholders co-sponsored a submission to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Sub Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers proposing a complete review of the Global Maritime Perilous Goods Code (IMDG Code), which outlined and classified harmful merchandise, as nicely as procedures for declaration. At current, some of those people commodities are not viewed as perilous and do not have to have to be declared as this kind of by the shipper to the provider.