Dangers Posed by Cargo Liquefaction

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Maritime Law

Despite significant advancements in maritime safety, the shipping industry faces a grave challenge, often overlooked: cargo liquefaction. Newly released statistics by the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo) have sounded the alarm as they reveal the role of cargo liquefaction in the tragic loss of life among seafarers over the last decade.

What is Cargo Liquefaction?

Liquefaction refers to a ship’s cargo transforming into a slurry-like consistency. It can manifest either gradually or instantly. This transformation, especially when unsuspected, endangers the stability of the vessel. A hold full of cargo can undergo liquefaction due to a ship’s motion and vibration, ultimately imperiling the vessel’s balance.

This December, the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMBSC) Code will introduce a new term alongside liquefaction, termed ‘dynamic separation’. While liquefaction pertains to the complete slurring of cargo, dynamic separation occurs when moisture in the cargo surfaces. This leads to a free surface effect, which can subsequently cause the slurry to shift, inducing the vessel to list or develop an irregular roll.

The Devastating Statistics

Between 2013 and 2023, 104 seafarers tragically lost their lives in accidents involving 26 bulk carriers. Shockingly, over two-thirds of these deaths stemmed from cargo liquefaction. Out of five bulk carriers that succumbed due to liquefaction, four transported nickel ore, while one had a bauxite consignment. These vessels alone accounted for a staggering 70 lost lives. It’s worth noting that while the overall number of bulk carriers has increased by 30% to approximately 13,000 over the decade, the primary causes for ship losses remain cargo liquefaction and groundings.

The Road Ahead

Numerous cargoes, such as cement, coal slurry, and nickel ore, pose high risks if their moisture content surpasses the ‘transportable moisture limit’ (TML). The failure to provide accurate cargo details exacerbates these risks. As a result, shippers need to be transparent about cargo consignments.

Our experienced lawyers handle maritime personal injury and wrongful death litigation of all kinds and the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured as a result of a maritime accident. The lawyers of Spagnoletti Law Firm have handled maritime lawsuits throughout the country.

The experienced and aggressive vessel accident attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an accident on a ship. There are strict and short time limits on making claims related to maritime injuries, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your rights.