Update on carriage of ore cargoes


Published: 27 January 2012

The Association refers to its previous warnings on the dangers of bulk cargo liquefaction problems, mainly arising from the carriage or mineral ore cargoes. Members are referred to the relevant section of our website for background details.

The recent loss of two vessels, one with significant loss of life, once again highlights the concern of the shipping industry to the continued dangers of the liquefaction of mineral ore cargoes shipped in bulk.


January 2012 : MV SUN SPIRITS

Various public sources have reported that the Panama registered SUN SPIRITS sank off the eastern coast of the Philippines on 22 January during a laden voyage from Leyte (The Philippines) to China with a full cargo of iron ore. While the investigation into the casualty is not complete, the reports suggest that the cargo may have shifted during rough weather, and liquefaction has not been ruled out as a cause.

Fortunately, the crew was rescued but the accident is another urgent reminder of the dangers involved.


December 2011 : MV VINALINES QUEEN

This casualty was far more tragic, as it appears to have led to the loss of 22 lives. The 2005 built Supramax was reported to have been carrying a cargo of nickel ore from Morowali, Indonesia, to China, and was reported as missing on 25 December 2011. Only one crewman was found alive.


This accident brings back thoughts of the serious casualties that occurred in 2010 when, within a short period of time, 3 vessels were lost along with 44 crewmembers. While we should point out that the investigation into the cause of the VINALINES QUEEN casualty also is not complete, it is important to remind ourselves that newer, larger vessels carrying ore cargoes are just as much at risk as other vessels of catastrophic loss of stability caused by liquefaction.

The Secretary General of Intercargo, addressing this matter on 3 January 2012, said :

“We’ve previously called on shippers and cargo interests to conduct an urgent review into the testing and safety processes involved in shipping of hazardous cargoes, following the spate of accidents and fatalities in 2010, but clearly more needs to be urgently done to stop this appalling unnecessary loss of life”.

“Sadly, it seems that some shipowners still do not have the relevant experience or knowledge in interpreting the IMSBC Code and are accepting cargoes which are unsafe. But we need to receive the reassurances of the Competent Authorities in the exporting countries that their procedures and processes have integrity and transparency so that this message is received and most importantly, trusted by the shipowners. Competent Authorities are key to ensuring that seafarer’s lives are not put in danger”.


Urgent work by the Association continues, in conjunction with the other Clubs of the IG, as well as other industry organizations, to address further this serious problem.

In the meantime, all of Skuld’s Members – be they Owners or Charterers – are reminded to take extra special care when considering the carriage of mineral bulk cargoes, in particular if these originate from countries with known issues.

With regard to nickel ore in particular, we refer to the International Group Circular of 27 January 2011 which sets out important recommendations. This may be found on our web site at the address referred to above,

In case of any doubt or concern Members should feel free to contact the Association immediately.