The Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KNVR) is critical of the report published by the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) on Thursday 14 May. It revealed that shipping companies make lots of mistakes in the lashing of containers. In its response, the KVNR suggests that the Inspectorate bases its investigation results on incomplete information.

The ILT investigated 69 seagoing vessels in the port of Rotterdam. 67 per cent of these violated rules and regulations regarding the loading and securing of containers. This concerns, for example, not securing cargo hold hatches, the use of damaged lashing material and not securing containers or not securing them properly.

The MSC Zoe disaster was the reason for the large-scale inspection. At the beginning of last year, the large container ship lost 342 containers in the North Sea above the Wadden Islands, causing enormous environmental damage.

Which ships?

The results of the inspections, despite the ten per cent drop in the number of violations compared to 2009, give reason to bring the report to the attention of shipping companies, according to the KVNR. At the same time, parts of the report raise questions.

For instance, according to the trade organisation, it is not clear which ships have been inspected. The association doubts whether the ships in question are those operated by its members. ‘The KVNR’s impression is that it appears to be mainly the larger container ships. Most of them fly a flag other than the Dutch flag.’

The shipowners’ association also insists that when loading containers on board the ship, the shipping company and the ship’s crew must often rely on the cargo documents supplied and on the verified weights of the containers specified by the shippers.

In addition, the containers must be secured to the ship in accordance with the ship’s Cargo Securing Manual (CSM). This is a ship-specific manual for securing containers on board, which has been approved by the flag state or by the classification society on behalf of the flag state and to which legal requirements have been laid down.

CSM compliance should improve

‘However, unlike the earlier investigation in 2009, this time, the ILT has not investigated whether the verified weights quoted by shippers actually correspond to reality,’ the KVNR criticises. ‘The way in which the cargo is secured by the shippers inside the containers has not been investigated either. The report is limited to lashing the containers on board. The ILT notes that compliance with the CSM, in particular, needs to be improved.’

Despite the criticism, the shipowners’ association wants to discuss the ILT report with its members, in particular about not working according to the CSM. ‘We will also bring this to the attention of international shipowners’ associations,’ says the Dutch shipowners’ association.

Suggestive picture

Finally, the KVNR stresses that, contrary to the report’s indications, it is possible to check and tighten the lashing rings more effectively during the voyage. ‘Some shipping companies have clear company instructions for this, which must be followed. It is regrettable that ILT, as a government agency, has painted a suggestive and subjective picture on this point based on the observations that have taken place in a port’.

This article first appeared in Dutch on Nieuwsblad Transport, another publication of SWZ|Maritime’s publishing partner Promedia.

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