The guidance presents several safety steps so that a vessel is able to efficiently handle dangerous goods.

In general, containerships have been subject to major fires through years, leading to loss of life, harm of the environment and damage or loss of cargo and property.

The document aims to address onboard dangerous goods stowage considerations to improve the SOLAS and IMDG requirements.

Cargo-related incidents that lead to fire or explosions are rooted in cargo problems. Investigations, litigation and inspections mark various deficiencies in relation to cargo presented for shipment, also including:

  • Erroneous classification and declaration
  • Packing, segregation and securing not complying with IMDG or not following the CTU Code2
  • Packaging not complying with IMDG.

The report highlights that cargoes that are not compliant with national ad international requirements oppose great risk to all stakeholders involved in their transfer.

Also, specific commodities that are not subject to the provisions of IMDG are known to present heightened risks onboard ships and have more possibilities to be subject to greater scrutiny.

These commodities include:

  • Metal scrap
  • Borings, shavings, turnings
  • Seed cake.

Additionally, according to IMDG, the dangerous goods are categorized in nine classes and then are further divided, based on their predominant type of hazard they represent.

Class 1:   Explosives

Class 2.1: Flammable gases

Class 2.2: Non‐flammable, non‐toxic gases

Class 2.3: Toxic gases

Class 3: Flammable liquids

Class 4.1:Flammable solids, self-reactive substances, solid desensitized explosives and polymerizing substances

Class 4.2:   Substances liable to spontaneous combustion

Class 4.3:   Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases

Class 5.1:   Oxidizing substances

Class 5.2:   Organic peroxides

Class 6.1:   Toxic substances

Class 6.2:  Infectious substances

Class 7:   Radioactive material

Class 8:   Corrosive substances

Class 9:   Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles

In addition to the dangers expressed above, dangerous goods carried on containerships should be safely stowed.

Therefore, the report presents 6 goals and their sub-goals as functional requirements so that stakeholders have a directional line to follow.

#1 Protecting lives:

Reduce risk of exposure to crew, risk of isolation of crew on ships due to obstructed means of escape, risk of fireexplosion and/or toxic hazards affecting the life‐saving appliances and provide a safe distance and additional time for emergency response

To achieve the steps above, the report recommends to

  • Prohibit any dangerous goods adjacent to accommodations
  • Stow explosives as further as possible from accommodation and segregated from other dangerous goods
  • Introduce general cargo, RZ0, athwartships barriers between adjacent Risk Zones along the length of the ship.

#2 Retain Main Propulsion 

It is also of a great importance to reduce the risk of cargo fire or explosion exposure to the engine room.

This can be achieved by:

  • Prohibiting any dangerous goods and highest risk cargoes adjacent to the engine room and settling tanks
  • Prohibiting any dangerous goods and highest risk cargoes in cargo holds above the engine room or shaft tunnel area
  • Introduce general cargo, RZ0, athwartships barriers between adjacent Risk Zones along the length of the ship.

#3 Retain Structural Integrity 

To achieve this, the report proposes to avoid fires which may lead in structural damage especially in the midship part of the ship, which is more vulnerable in comparison to other parts.

Also, avoid fires below deck, potentially large fires escalating from block stowage of DG, escalating fires by considering fire‐prone Dangerous Goods and higher risk cargoes, and block stowage within a Risk Zone.

To avoid the fires below the deck, one should consider avoiding potentially large fires escalated from block stowage of Dangerous Goods and higher risk cargoes.

#4 Facilitate Fire Prevention  

A step could be to avoid any exposure to heat, such as direct sunlight or heated fuel tank.

Moreover, reduce fire risk from contact with water, ignition risk from exposure to other fire-prone cargo, large-fires escalated from block stowage of DG and higher risk cargoes.

#5 Facilitate Firefighting  

To reduce the possibility of a smoldering fire escalating into a severe fire, one should stow higher risk cargoes and self-reacting commodities specifically and appropriately.

#6 Facilitate Security  

One measure could be to have suitable cargo declaration and acceptance procedures to reduce the risk from mis‐declared and undeclared Dangerous Goods

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