IMSBC Code: Entry into force of the Amendment 02-13


Published: 4 November 2014

Significant updates to the IMSBC Code are coming in to effect as of 1 January 2015. Members engaged in the carriage of dry bulk cargoes should seek to familiarise themselves with these changes soonest.

The development

Members are advised that as of 1 January 2015 compliance with the Amendments 02-13 to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code will become mandatory as per Resolution MSC.354(92) adopted during The Maritime Safety Committee's ninety-second session (12 to 21 June 2013).

Amendments 02-13 are the second set of amendments to the IMSBC Code. There is a general aim to have an amendment carried out every two years to reflect changes in the nature and variety of solid bulk cargoes presented for shipment and advances in expert understanding regarding the safest ways to carry established solid bulk cargoes.

Specific changes

The main changes in this Amendment which are of relevance to members include:

  1. Introduction of new definitions
    "Potential sources of ignition" - which means, but is not limited to, open fires, machinery exhausts, galley uptakes, electrical outlets and electrical equipment unless they are of certified safe type.
    "Sources of heat" - which means heated ship structures, where the surface temperature is liable to exceed 55ÂșC. Examples of heated structures are steam pipes, heating coils, top or side walls of heated fuel and cargo tanks, and bulkheads of machinery spaces.
    "Competent authority" - a new sentence is added at end of the original definition: "The competent authority shall operate independently from the shipper."
  2. Section 3 - Safety of personnel and ship
    The existing text under 3.6 is renumbered as 3.6.1 and two new paragraphs 3.6.2 and 3.6.3 are added to sub-Section 3.6 Cargo under in-transit fumigation.
  3. Section 4 - Assessment of acceptability of consignments for safe shipment
    Various changes have been made to sub-Section 4.3 Certificates of test and sub-Section 4.4 Sampling procedures.
  4. Section 7 - Cargoes that may liquefy
    The existing paragraph 7.2.2 is replaced with the following: "7.2.2 Liquefaction does not occur when the cargo consists of large particles or lumps and water passes through the spaces between the particles and there is no increase in the water pressure."
  5. Section 8 - Test procedures for cargoes which may liquefy
    A new paragraph 8.4.2 has been added to this section which describes how to carry out "can test", as follows: "8.4.2 If samples remain dry following a can test, the moisture content of the material may still exceed the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML)."
  6. A number of existing schedules in the Appendix have been updated as well as some new schedules have been added to the Appendix of the IMSBC Code

For a complete list of amendments, please refer to the attached Resolution MSC.354(92).

Members are recommended that they are familiar with these changes and vessels are ready to operate pursuant to them before 1 January 2015 in accordance with flag or port state requirements.


BIMCO has also released a detailed FAQ which can be accessed by BIMCO members from their website.

Loss prevention

The Association has seen a variety of issues with respect to bulk cargo safety over time and two very specific issues continue to be:

  • A. Liquefaction
    Members are advised to continue to be aware of this issue, as fundamentally the risks have not changed. Experience has shown that while some places are more prone to have problematic cargoes than others, even in more developed places this issue has arisen.
    Both ship and shore experience, plus keen vigilance have proven some of the most effective loss prevention, with a robust master refusing to load a suspect cargo being a great asset to any shipowner.
    Detailed information on the issues of liquefaction can be found in the bulk cargo liquefaction section.
  • B. Mis-declaration of cargoes
    This is a problem not confined to the bulk cargo industry, but certainly one where it is serious. Particular examples include the following (non-exclusive) list:
    i. mis-declared cargo for IMSBC Categories A, B, and A&B (i.e.: stated to be C)
    ii. incorrect cargo specifications as to moisture contents
    iii. miss-naming of cargoes, particularly DRI cargoes
    iv. miss-stating cargo temperatures, seen with both coal and cement clinker

Members are advised to always seek the best possible information on the precise nature of the cargo they are considering for carriage, so that the same can be planned and executed safely and within the regulatory framework of not just the IMSBC but also SOLAS.

For more bulk cargo related material, please see the bulk cargo loss prevention material.

In case a vessel is asked to load a cargo for which suspect documentation has been provided or where the cargo itself gives rise to concern, members and masters should not hesitate to contact the Association and in case of urgency direct communication should be taken up with the closest Club correspondent.

For further information, members are asked to contact the Association.