Maersk has issued new guidelines on dangerous goods stowage following a review of regulations and practices in the wake of the fire aboard Maersk Honam earlier this year, where five crew members lost their lives.
The company said it has now evaluated more than 3,000 hazardous materials in order to further understand and improve dangerous cargo stowage and has developed a new set of principles called Risk Based Dangerous Goods Stowage (RDBGS) which have been presented to the International Maritime Organization as well as the Danish Maritime Authorities.
Maersk’s liner vessel Maersk Honam reported a serious fire on Tuesday 6 March 2018. The crew managed to release the vessels’ CO2 system into the cargo hold but that did not stop the fire.
Maersk Honam was 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. Maersk is still awaiting the investigation to establish the root cause of the fire in the cargo hold.
Ole Graa Jakobsen, Head of Fleet Technology at Maersk, said: “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 RDBGS 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 six different risk zones defined.
Cargo covered under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods 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 in the middle of the vessel, 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 has defined which hazardous materials can be stored in each risk zone.
“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," continued Ole Graa Jakobsen.
"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.”
Posted on: October 1st 2018