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Continued vigilance is key to avoiding fires on board ships – TT Club

Regulation and improving fire-fighting techniques have proven inadequate to stem the tide of serious incidents costing lives, significant cargo losses, and ship damage – TT Club

TT Club, the market-leading independent provider of mutual insurance and related risk management services to the international transport and logistics industry has sounded this alarm in the wake of continued ship fires..

In a press release, the TT Club advised that with an estimated occurrence of serious fires on a 60-day average, a more comprehensive approach is required to arrest the trend of ship fires..

There were significant lessons coming from the sad incident on the MSC Flaminia, which cost the lives of three seafarers, particularly from the subsequent legal proceedings that adjudged the shipper and NVOC responsible for root cause errors,” says TT’s Peregrine Storrs-Fox..

Despite the biennial updates to the IMDG Code, including multiple arising from this particular incident, the judge’s assessment that the regulations merely set the ‘baseline’ for good practice remains utterly true today,” added Storrs-Fox..

The freight transport and logistics insurance specialist insurer, TT Club is battling to convince cargo interests (shippers), supply chain professionals, and enforcement agencies that the responsibility for mitigating container ship fires rests upon all entities involved in the global supply chain..

While the Club sees ensuring compliance with the latest mandatorily applicable version of the IMDG Code as a minimum required standard for all those shipping dangerous goods by sea, it is also of the view that the liability judgment in the MSC Flaminia case made it clear that regulations merely set the baseline..

This is an important statement to which any entity inclined to rely solely on the letter of the law when consigning dangerous goods, would do very well to pay heed,” comments Storrs-Fox..

Errors, mis-declarations including wilful mis-declarations, inadequate packing, and securing of cargo against cargo damage lie at the heart of many maritime disasters..

Cargo movement involves various stakeholders starting with the sellers who generally engage 3rd party warehouses/packing stations to do their packing for them.. All parties from packers, warehouse operators, forwarders, logistics companies, carriers of all modal types, cargo handlers, and terminal operators have a duty of care to ensure that the cargo is correctly packed, declared, and transported..

In an effort to disseminate such awareness and knowledge, the TT Club along with its sister insurer, the UK P&I Club recently updated its guideline publication, ‘Book it Right, Pack it Tight’..

This publication provides vital insights for all involved in the transportation of dangerous goods shipments, including technical aspects of the IMDG Code, and also outlines compliance standards that should be adopted for all stakeholders to understand their own duties and the duties of their contractual partners..

As part of the Cargo Integrity Group, the TT Club also contributed to updating the ‘CTU Code – a quick guide’ to assist packing stations and others responsible for packing containers to accurately declare details of the contents of containers in line with the IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code)..

The complexities of the global container trades increase rather than diminish,” concludes Storrs-Fox.  “No one entity can surmount the dangers of these horrific fires, as a consequence, it is essential that the entirety of the risk faced should be embraced by all involved through the supply chain if they are to be successfully reduced.

I say that maybe the time has come to inspect every hazardous container for correct declaration as it seems shippers may not be taking this as seriously as it should be..

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