Most of us that have been around in the shipping industry for a while have experienced terrible events, that directly effected our shipments and cargo. Delays, lost/found containers, broken cranes, damaged cargo etc.
But there are some people among us that have been hit by catastrophic events. I am one of those people. When I was working in Hong Kong in 2007, on a Tuesday night, I was watching television. There was a breaking news story about 2 vessels that had collided. When the anchor man said the vessel name, I was in shock. It was the same vessel that was supposed to arrive later that week, carrying my 100*40’ft containers of plastics cargo…. “MY VESSEL“! And yes, I was hearing these news on TV.
This is the vessel that hit the side of my vessel.
Here she is, injured and in distress. Below you can see the crack, and inside that hole are my poor containers.
The next day, we spoke with the carrier and learned that they were working on the aftermath of the accident. In 2 days time, I was informed that my cargo was located on the lower deck and one lane behind the point of impact. So, about 8 of our containers were totally covered in oil and 5 of them got some oil in them. Of course then the insurance process started, our containers were taken to Singapore, washed out and I think apart from 3 containers, the rest were eventually delivered (significantly late and traumatized…). At that point I it really hit me that what we do behind our desks everyday is a living process and anything can happen.
During our busy workdays with all the communication and paperwork, we tend to forget that the vessels are actually moving these commodities around the world and there is risk involved – especially when shippers fail to declare their commodities properly. I want to show you some more examples of such accidents in the past years, because I believe it will make us think twice when we ask the carriers, “Why you are not loading my cargo?”, “why is my cargo late?” or “why do you need the MSDS?”.
Below is exactly why you need to be careful when you prepare your hazardous declaration.
According to a statement made by the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Committee on Appropriations, United States House of Representatives: “The cause of the fire is believed to have been a container loaded with petroleum-based cleaning fluids stowed near the engine room. The shipper failed to indicate the hazardous nature of this shipment to the Hyundai Fortune, undoubtedly to avoid the special handling fees associated with transporting hazardous materials.” Luckily, all 27 crew members were saved on time.
This is what vessel planning is about, and this is why we all need to think twice next time we push for our containers to get on the vessel NO MATTER WHAT.
If you want to see more from these disastrous events, you can see it here: