IUMI and National Cargo Bureau (NCB): Partners in the push for improved containership safety

By Hendrike Kühl, IUMI Policy Director

In July the National Cargo Bureau (NCB) published a white paper advocating for a comprehensive approach to address the challenging issue of misdeclared and undeclared dangerous goods. The document outlines the significant risks to which crews, ships, cargoes and the environment are exposed to when dangerous goods (DG) are not shipped in compliance with the necessary rules and regulations. The continuous growth of the size of containerships which are carrying ever more containers represents a further increase of accumulation risk.

The cause of the problem is manifold: It starts with the challenge to ensure that DG regulations are not simply viewed as a regulatory requirement but a fundamental part of one’s safety regime. It continues with the blunt disregard of DG regulations. Inadvertently, port authorities and shipping lines themselves contribute to the risk of misdeclarations when they restrict the carriage of specific DGs. Vessel sharing agreements in which not all carriers necessarily adhere to the same high level of safety standards is another challenge which needs to be taken into account. Ever more complex supply chains put additional strain on successful safety regimes.

IUMI therefore wholeheartedly supports the recommendations set out in the NCB paper. A multi-stakeholder approach is urgently needed to address the various safety concerns explained above, both from an industry and a regulatory perspective.

At the same time, equal focus needs to be placed on fire detection and protection measures. Such efforts are already underway in the joint proposal which IUMI along with Germany, Bahamas, BIMCO and CESA put forward to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) 102. The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) work will pick up again in a virtual format this autumn. The proposal for a new output on a review of the fire protection and fire detection measures onboard containership in combination with the NCB’s proposal to tackle misdeclaration and non-declaration of DGs are two sides of the same coin.