The ability of owners and charterers to adequately address some
of the difficult issues posed by the carriage of solid bulk cargoes
that may liquefy has been enhanced by the new Charterparty BIMCO
Clause issued on 25 July 2012.
The dangers associated with the carriage of solid bulk cargoes
that may liquefy are well known. There have been many occurrences
of vessels losing stability and capsizing on a laden voyage and
sadly in some cases, the loss of crew lives.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has reflected the
seriousness of this potential hazard through the issuance of
guidelines in the International Convention for the Safety of Life
at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter VI Carriage of Cargoes, and in the Codes
International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) and the Code of
Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Cargoes (BLU
Under these guidelines it is the responsibility of the shipper
to provide the Master or his representative with the appropriate
information on the cargo at a sufficiently early stage in loading
to enable the necessary precautions for the proper stowage and safe
carriage of the cargo to be put into effect. Even though the
guidelines require that cargo information is supported by a written
and signed declaration by the shipper, there have been instances of
misdeclaration, inaccurate and fraudulent information being passed
to the Master.
Whilst not relieving the shipper of his obligation under the
IMSBC, the Master is expected to visually inspect the cargo prior
to and during loading. If he has any doubts regarding the condition
and characteristics of the cargo, the Master is encouraged to
employ an independent surveyor to take representative samples and
stop further loading until moisture content analysis of the cargo
has been obtained.
The decision to stop a loading operation is a difficult one
given the potential exposure of the owners to financial as well as
contractual consequences, especially if it is found that the delay
was unjustified. The Master may also be exposed to local threats if
loading is prevented and sampling of a cargo on board may be
It is with these concerns in mind that BIMCO has worked together
with the International Group of P&I Clubs and produced a new
standard clause entitled "The BIMCO Solid Bulk Cargoes that
can liquefy Clause for Charterparties".
Key elements of the Clause are:
Charterers shall ensure the cargo is loaded in compliance with
the International Regulations including IMSBC
Charterers shall provide cargo information prior to
commencement of loading
Owners have the right to take samples prior to and during
Sampling and testing shall be at the charterers risk, cost,
expense and time
The Master shall have the right to refuse to accept the cargo
or, if already loaded, to refuse to sail from the loading port
The Master has a right to require the charterers to make safe
the cargo and offload the cargo at the charterers risk, cost,
expense and time
The International Group of P&I Clubs has provided a
considerable amount of loss prevention material regarding this
difficult issue to its members already. The BIMCO clause will
supplement this advice, and provides an additional option to
parties negotiating charterparties where clarification of the
rights and responsibilities relating to the safe carriage of this
type of cargo is likely to be an issue. The full wording of the
clause can be found on the BIMCO website here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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