Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
After a thorough review of current safety practices and policies in the stowage of dangerous cargo, Maersk has now completed implementation of new guidelines to improve safety across its container vessel fleet.
Following the tragic fire aboard Maersk Honamin March this year, Maersk took measures and implemented additional preliminary guidelines for stowage of dangerous goods. The company evaluated over 3,000 United Nations numbers of hazardous materials in order to further understand and improve dangerous cargo stowage in container vessels and developed a new set of principles called Risk Based Dangerous Goods Stowage.
Call for comprehensive study
Together with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), Maersk called for a workshop with other industry stakeholders to conduct a comprehensive Hazard Identification study that validated these new guidelines which have now been implemented across Maersk Line’s fleet of more than 750 vessels. The Risk Based Dangerous Goods Stowage principles have also been presented to the IMO as well as the Danish Maritime Authorities.
In the words of Ole Graa Jakobsen, Head of Fleet Technology at Maersk: ‘All cargo aboard Maersk Honam was accepted as per the requirements of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code and stowed onboard the vessel accordingly. Despite this, as the fire originated in a cargo hold in front of the accommodation which held several containers with dangerous goods, it had an unbearably tragic outcome.
‘This clearly showed us that the international regulations and practices with regards to dangerous goods stowage needs to be reviewed in order to optimally protect crew, cargo, environment and vessels.’
The Risk Based Dangerous Goods Stowage principles have been developed with the aim of minimising risk to crew, cargo, environment and vessel in case a fire develops. The different container vessel designs were reviewed from a risk mitigation perspective and ultimately six different risk zones defined.
Cargo covered under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code will no longer be stowed next to accommodation and main propulsion plant which is defined as the zone with the lowest risk tolerance. Similarly, risk tolerance will be low below deck and amidships, whereas the risk tolerance will be higher on deck fore and aft. Utilising statistics on container fires in the Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS), Maersk defined which UN numbers can be stored in each risk zone.
Maersk will continue to review its rules and policies for accepting dangerous goods and assess how to further improve them. Together with other members of the CINS, Maersk is seeking to channel these experiences into developing new industry best practices.
Jakobsen added: ‘Container ship fires are a problem for our entire industry and we intend to share and discuss our learnings from this thorough review within relevant industry forums. We very much believe that discussions, views and insights among container carriers can further improve fire safety in our industry.
‘We aim for long term improvements by reviewing our systems and then designing an end-to-end process that is safe for our seafarers and smooth for our customers.
The illustration appearing here is from www.maersk.com©
Further review and presentation to IMO
In the coming months, a review aimed at creating best management practices for dangerous goods stowage will be undertaken with participation from ABS, Lloyd’s Register, the International Group of P&I Clubs, National Cargo Bureau, the TT Club and Exis Technologies. Once the project is completed the best management practices will be published and presented to the IMO.
Backgroundto the Maersk Honamfire in the Indian Ocean
On 6 March 2018, the Maersk liner vessel Maersk Honamreported a serious fire. The crew managed to release the vessel’s CO2 system into the cargo hold. Unfortunately, that did not extinguish the fire.
Maersk Honamwas carrying dangerous goods in the cargo hold where the fire originated, however at this time, there is no evidence to suggest that dangerous goods caused the fire. All cargo was accepted as per the requirements of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code and stowed in the vessel accordingly.
Five crew members lost their lives in course of the incident.
It is understood that Maersk is still awaiting the result of an investigation to establish the root cause of the fire in the cargo hold.
One of Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani’s last duties before leaving office on 13 February was to make a written statement on Light Dues, the means of financing the marine aids to navigation services of the United Kingdom.
In the document she said: ‘A strong and growing maritime industry is vital to the economy of the United Kingdom and it is critical that we treasure and protect this vital artery if we are to remain a world-leading maritime centre.
‘The work of the General Lighthouse Authorities2, which provide and maintain marine aids to navigation and respond to new wrecks and navigation dangers in some of the busiest waters in the world, is crucial to underpinning that vision whilst maintaining our vigorous safety record and continuously improving standards of safety.
‘Reductions in the three General Lighthouse Authorities’ running costs have enabled the UK to reduce light dues on four occasions since 2014. For 2020 to 2021 I intend to freeze light dues rates at 37½ pence per net registered tonne. This will mean that light dues will have fallen by 30% in real terms since 2010.
‘Light dues rates will continue to be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that the General Lighthouse Authorities are challenged to provide an effective and efficient service which offers value for money to light dues payers.’
New hubs of business and enterprise will be opened across the UK creating thousands of jobs, regenerating communities and turbocharging Britain’s post-Brexit growth, the Government announced on 10 February.
Up to ten new innovative Freeports will be opened across the UK as the Government seeks to level up the country and seize on the opportunities leaving the EU has presented. This was the style of a news item delivered on behalf of HM Treasury.
A consultation has been launched setting out the Government’s vision for Freeports, with the aim of announcing the location of the new zones at the end of this year so they can be open for business in 2021.
It is understood that once the ten-week consultation is completed, the Government will invite sea, air and rail ports to bid for Freeport status on a competitive basis.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, said: ‘Freeports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up. They will attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.
‘This is all part of our mission as an open, outward-looking country, championing global free trade with vibrant Freeports that work for all of the UK.’