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Safety Improvements in Dry Bulk Shipping Sector Noted by INTERCARGO

A view of the half-sunk cargo ship OS 35 in Catalan Bay after its collision with an LNG tanker near Gibraltar, September 1, 2022. Gibraltar Government/Handout via REUTERS

Safety Improvements in Dry Bulk Shipping Sector Noted by INTERCARGO

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 554
June 13, 2024

A new report from the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO) shows a decade-long trend of safety improvements in the dry bulk shipping sector.

The report underlines a significant decrease in ship losses and loss of lives in the sector, despite a 20% growth in tonnage over the last ten years.

The annual Bulk Carrier Casualty Report by INTERCARGO monitors the impact of safety measures across the global sector by recording yearly data of vessel losses and deaths.

According to latest report just released, the fleet of bulk carriers increased by 20% between 2014 and 2023 to 12,200 vessels, which now account for over 40% of the world’s tonnage and transport an estimated 55% of global transport work.

The report’s findings are encouraging, with a clear decrease in vessel losses despite the growth of the fleet. Between 2014 and 2023, 21 bulk carriers of more than 10,000 deadweight tonnes were reported lost, with the tragic loss of 89 seafarers’ lives. However, the year 2023 saw only one total loss of a dry bulk vessel and no loss of life. The lost vessel was the Chinese-flagged M/V Yong Xing 56, which flooded after a hull breach by ice while at anchor in Russia.

Bulk carrier losses chart 2014-2023
Credit: INTERCARGO

Despite the improvements, concerns still linger around cargo liquefaction and other moisture-related cargo failures, which contributed to the loss of 55 lives or 61.8% of total life losses over the past decade. Groundings were identified as the primary cause of ship losses. Reducing these incidents further requires enhanced safety awareness and accurate cargo characteristic details from all stakeholders.

The continual safety improvements by ship operators, improved international regulatory framework, and the adoption of new technology for ship design have been identified as major contributors to the sector’s improved safety performance. INTERCARGO, as a Non-Governmental Organization within the International Maritime Organization, has played a significant role in developing this enhanced legislation.

“We have come a long way since the ‘dark days’ of the 1980s, when we experienced many tragic losses of lives and vessels,” said Dimitris Fafalios, INTERCARGO Chairman, noting that safety performance in the sector has steadily improved. He described the latest statistics as an “impressive achievement” especially when considering the significant rise in the number of bulk carriers during this period.

“There is, however, definitely no room for complacency. Any loss of life is tragic, and the shipping industry must pay close attention to the contributing causes analysed in this report. INTERCARGO believes the dry bulk sector should be proud of its achievement and recognise that improved safety is largely thanks to continuous crew and shore-staff training, improved ship design, new technology and stronger regulatory compliance,” he said.

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