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Undeclared Dangerous Goods Causing Ship Fires

May 31st, 2019 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Dangerous goods are never as dangerous as when they are in transit. The shipping of dangerous goods is risky, but when the packagers and shippers do their due diligence and ensure that the packages meet the stringent requirements and regulations set forth by the pertinent governing bodies. One major threat facing shippers of dangerous goods is the threat of fires.

Ship fires have been a leading cause of losses in the shipping industry thus far this year.

Since January, there have been at least a dozen fires reported on vessels, including a deadly fire and series of explosions on a tanker off of Hong Kong. According to Allianz’s Safety and Shipping Review in 2018, fires caused a loss of 112 ships between 2008 and 2017. Without further action, that number will only continue to rise.

Mis-declared or undeclared flammable chemicals are believed to be a recurring cause for a lot of these fires and explosions. Andrew Kinsey at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty has been eager to find a solution. According to Kinsey, the key is moving forward with a proactive mindset rather than being reactive as they have been. “We can’t continue to sift through the burnt wreckage and say, ‘That’s what was here.’” says Kinsey. “We have to start to identify it before it even comes through the gate at the terminal much less being stowed on the vessel.”

Kinsey and others are excited at the prospect of using technology to make the changes necessary to prevent ship fires and improve communication between carriers. The idea is that with stronger, more consistent IT standards and better communication between customers and shipping lines, they can prevent mis-declared or undeclared cargo, especially dangerous cargo.

In September, Maersk announced “risk-based dangerous goods stowage principles” to help prevent future issues. But many don’t believe additional regulations are the answer, the real answer is following the rules that are already in place. We strive to stay on top of all industry regulations and restrictions at Skolnik, so we’re inclined to agree. There’s no way to know if the rules currently in place are effective if they aren’t being followed effectively.

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