Zero Death Toll For Bulkers Still Elusive

The long-term goal of zero loss of life among dry bulk seafarers seems “more elusive than ever”, with the downward trend apparent in recent years appearing to have reached a plateau, the sector’s main trade association has conceded.

According to Intercargo’s annual Benchmarking Bulk Carriers study, last year saw 38 seafarers killed in ships of this type, down from 44 killed in 2010.

Some 22 of the deaths were from a single casualty; the loss of Vinalines Queen on Christmas Day. The number of vessel losses increased from seven to 11 last year, the report reveals.

However, the 10-year rolling average does show some signs of improvement, with the average of 24 deaths a year between 2002-2011 clearly favourable compared to the figure of 60 deaths a year between 1992-2002.

The sixth edition of the study document features extensive statistical information relating to the world bulk carrier fleet, including port state control deficiencies and detentions, and narrative and analysis of negative performance indicators, such as collisions, groundings and casualties, during 2011.

In terms of growth, last year saw 1,061 new deliveries, a level described by Intercargo as “astonishing”. That took the number of internationally trading bulk carriers to 8,141, a 7.8% increase on 2010. Net growth — excluding vessels sent for scrap — was 673 vessels.

The average size of bulk carrier newbuildings was 85,810 dwt. In terms of ownership, more than 50% of delivered ships went to Asia-based companies, with Japan leading the pack.

Almost 28% were flagged in Panama, followed by Hong Kong (14.7% ) and Liberia (12.4%). Only nine of them were not classed by a member of the International Association of Classification Societies.

ABS had the greatest market share at 13.0%, followed by Lloyd’s Register (12.3%), Bureau Veritas (12.2%) and Det Norske Veritas (10.1%).

North of England was the most commonly used P&I club, with a 14.6% market share, followed by UK P&I with 11.6% and Gard with 11.0%.

The average age of the fleet dropped to 10.4 years, compared with 13.1 years in 2010. Intercargo sees this as function of both the high number of ships delivered and continued scrapping activity.

The overall number of bulk-carrier detentions continues to fall, although there are significant variations in deficiency patterns from port to port.

Intercargo-entered vessels accounted for 7.5% of the total number of bulk carrier detentions, an increase on last year’s low of 5.9%, which may be down to an increase in the Intercargo-entered fleet to 12.5% of the world fleet.

In 2011, Intercargo-entered vessels averaged 1.6 deficiencies per inspection, against an average of 2.6 for vessels not entered with Intercargo.

Intercargo secretary-general Rob Lomas said: “Port state control is generally an effective mechanism in promoting quality and responsible, quality-orientated owners should not fear the consequences of targeting matrixes in the main memoranda of understanding.

“To make informed choices, charterers and MoUs should be asking why there are some disparities in the data between the MoUs. Intercargo will be engaging in dialogue with the sector and the MoUs to ask the appropriate questions.”

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