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IMO : Agrees on new measures to detect and report containers lost at sea

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 103) meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) was held remotely from 5 to 14 May. One of the issues discussed at the meeting – among a very comprehensive list on the agenda, was new measures to mitigate for containers lost at sea, according to BIMCO’s release.
Containers lost at sea represent a potential danger to maritime safety and is a threat to the environment, particularly with regard to the plastics they contain. Over the course of three months late last year and early this year, almost 3,500 containers were lost in a number of incidents in the Western Pacific. This is far above the numbers usually registered for the same period and has raised concern regarding the causes of these incidents.
The causes that may lead, in some cases, to the loss of containers at sea vary from; it may be due to bad weather conditions or high waves creating instability on board. The fact is that it is difficult to have precise figures on the number of containers lost, particularly as container visibility from the bridge may be limited by the containers themselves, and only the upper tiers and the nearest bays can be seen.
When a relatively distant stack of containers collapses, it is difficult to determine immediately and precisely how many containers are involved and when they fell. These events generally occur in adverse weather conditions that prevent immediate on-site investigation. For the crew, it is extremely dangerous to walk along unstable container stacks.
The MSC therefore agreed to initiate new measures to detect and report containers lost at sea, which may enhance the positioning, tracking and recovery of such containers. The IMO agreed to establish a compulsory system to declare the loss of containers and setting up means on board to easily identify the exact number of losses.
Together with such a system, the ships are obliged to report the loss of (a) container(s) through a standardized procedure, possibly detailing, e.g. identification, cargo carried (particularly dangerous goods or harmful substances), or whether these containers may float and constitute a risk of collision with ships and boats.
IMO meeting focuses on containers lost at sea | Seatrade Maritime
Over the next couple of years, the IMO will develop such measures in order to mitigate containers fallen into the sea in the first place, and to restore fidelity in the safety of container transport with the present fleet

BIMCO supports new IMO water level alarms for cargo holds

On the oter side ,the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) currently require single hold cargo ships of less than 80 meters (100 meters if constructed before 1 July 1998) to have a water level detection alarm. These ships are not required to undertake a damage stability assessment, which means there are no requirements to assess the effect of flooding of the cargo hold. Should damage occur and water starts to enter the hold, the crew need to be alerted to the situation so they can take appropriate mitigation action.
The sinking of “El Faro” on 1 October 2015 provide an example of why this is necessary, as the ship sank following flooding, with loss of all hands onboard. Recommendations from the accident report proposed that “new cargo vessels be equipped with bilge high-level alarms in all cargo holds that send audible and visible indication to a manned location.”
Hence, the MSC adopted new regulation, entering into force on 1 January 2024. The new provision is put forward in a new SOLAS regulation (II-1/25-1) which requires new multiple-hold cargo ships to be fitted with water level detectors in each cargo hold intended for cargo.
The water level detectors will give an audible and visual alarm at the navigation bridge when the water level reaches a hight of 0.3m above the bottom of the cargo hold, and again when the water level reaches a hight of 15% of the depth of the cargo hold.
If the ship is having bilge pumping arrangements (according to SOLAS II-1/35-1) this may be used as equivalent too, if positioned correctly in the cargo holds.
The new regulation harmonizes the requirements for bulk carriers and non-bulk carriers, and will not apply to tankers, liquid holds, and tanks entirely above the freeboard deck.
The MSC 103 also agreed to consequential amendments to the “Performance standards for water level detectors on bulk carriers and single hold cargo ships other than bulk carriers” (MSC.188(79)) to align with the new SOLAS requirements.

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