• Trevor Wetmore

YM Efficiency highlights SOLAS concerns

SOME 321 containers on board the embattled vessel YM Efficiency were mis-declared and stowed incorrectly, a forum in Melbourne’s western suburbs has heard.

The Container Matters Forum, organised by Container Transport Alliance Australia, was held at Kooringal Golf Club in Altona.

Guest speaker Peter Kosmina, chief executive of container weighing business Cindicium, spoke about the need for effective stowing, particularly in the context of the international convention on Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS), implemented two years ago.

“(SOLAS) hasn’t really done what it is supposed to do. We are still seeing 28% of exports being recorded as not matching the PRA (pre-receival advice) and 51% of imports not matching what was declared,” Mr Kosmina said.

“In Brisbane a few weeks ago, one of the stevedores was recording that the PRA was trending towards over-declaring weight… which has other implications for shipping lines in terms of what is being put on the ship.”

Mr Kosmina said carriers were reporting that since the implementation of SOLAS, there had been an increase in the use of weighbridges which had then dropped off.

He also noted the case of the YM Efficiency, the ship that “lost the boxes off Newcastle”.

“Apart from the 80 boxes that went overboard, AMSA recorded that 321 containers were not stowed correctly due to their weight,” Mr Kosmina said.

He noted a “lack of enforcement” around SOLAS and the need to be “proactive and not reactive”.

Also speaking at the forum was Paul Molenaar, director with the Compliance Experts, who noted the need for transport businesses to “future proof” one’s business and to have a demonstrable commitment to safety.

“The risk is actually before (the container) hits the wharf in Melbourne. The risk occurs upstream with suppliers,” Mr Molenaar said.

“So if you are going to tackle this problem, one of the components… is to begin liaison with your freight forwarders, your agents and your customers and set the rules.”

Mr Molenaar said industry was lacking commercial agreements regarding safety.

“Business has been done on a handshake… that may have been fine until now but it has got to change. We need to get commercial agreements and contracts in place.”

Post publication of this story, an AMSA spokesman contacted DCN to make the following comments:

  • AMSA found a number of deficiencies relating to the ship’s safety management system, safety of navigation, and cargo stowage.

  • “AMSA found the crew were not familiar with procedures related to appropriate planning and risk assessment before navigating through heavy weather, or the applications of approved arrangement to the stowage of cargo.

  • “It was noted that loaded containers were stowed in slots intended for empty containers and some containers were heavier than the weight limit for the tiers in which they were stowed.

  • “It was found that a total of 324 containers exceeded their tier weight limits set in the ship’s cargo securing manual. A total of 276 containers required re-stowing prior to release from detention in order to comply with the ship’s cargo securing manual.”

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