News 22 Sep, 2017

Carriage of Bauxite which may Liquefy

In January 2015 a handymax bulk carrier sank with significant loss of life after loading a cargo of 46,000 tonnes of bauxite from the Malaysian port of Kuantan, where it was suspected that liquefaction of the cargo may have been the cause of the vessel’s loss.

Since the sinking significant research has been conducted into the properties of bauxite cargoes by the Global Bauxite Working Group (GBWG) and various Competent Authorities, resulting in submissions to the IMO’s Sub-Committee on the Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC). These submissions were considered at the most recent meeting of the CCC from 11th to 15th September 2017, where three draft amendments to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code were finalised for submission to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). It is anticipated that the amendments to the IMSBC Code will be adopted at MSC 101 in 2019, with entry into force expected to be 1st January 2021.

The three proposed amendments to the IMSBC Code address:

  • Draft test procedures for determining the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) of bauxite.
  • Draft individual schedule for Group A bauxite, having the Bulk Cargo Shipping Name (BCSN) of “Bauxite Fines”.
  • Draft amendments to the existing individual schedule for Group C bauxite.

It should be noted that the GBWG, after extensive work on the matter, observed “That an atypical motion of the ship (wobbling) may also be indicative of cargo instability. The master should take appropriate action”. This “wobble” is caused by the movement of a free surface slurry over the top of the cargo which is out of phase with the ship’s roll period. This free surface movement of the cargo has the ability to further reduce a vessel’s stability and increase the risk of capsize.

Members are advised to consider the contents of CCC.1/Circ.2/Rev.1 – Carriage of Bauxite which may Liquefy, when fixed to load a bulk bauxite cargo and to act accordingly. The previous circular on the matter, CCC.1/Circ.2 has been superseded by the foregoing.

Members requiring further guidance should contact the Loss Prevention department.