P&I insurers are flagging concern over bauxite cargo liquefaction following the sinking of the Bulk Jupiter off Vietnam with the loss of 18 of the 19 seafarers onboard.
In a circular the American Club noted the Bulk Jupiter had been carrying a cargo of bauxite from Kuantan in Malaysia when it capsized and sank off Vung Tau in Vietnam.
“Although it is at present not possible to identify a specific cause, the circumstances, at least as presently understood, are similar to those of previous cases involving cargo liquefaction,” the club said.
Britannia P&I, listed as the P&I insurers for the Bulk Jupiter on Equasis, said, “Members with a ship fixed, or intending to fix a ship, to load bauxite from Malaysia are asked to urgently contact the managers to discuss current safety concerns.”
Liquefaction of bauxite cargoes has been a cause of casualties in the past, much in the same way as nickel ore cargoes, which have claimed the lives of over 80 seafarers in casualties over the last few years.
The Norwegian Hull Club noted the extremely heavy monsoon rains in Malaysia over the last month, which has left bauxite stockpiles very wet. “Open storage conditions generally prevent the cargo from draining or drying sufficiently before being loaded,” it said.
Although the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code classifies bauxite as a Group C cargo but a high moisture content could see it reclassified.
“Clients proposing to load or in the process of loading a cargo of bauxite in Kuantan, Malaysia or any other port with prevailing or recent wet weather conditions are therefore advised to contact the managers promptly to assess the requirement for appointing a suitable surveyor, and to treat these cargoes as potential Group A cargoes, ie cargoes which may liquefy if shipped at a moisture content in excess of their transportable moisture limit,” the Norwegian Hull Club said.
The American Club similarly warned: “In any event, should Members have any concerns over the carriage of cargoes of bauxite, they are urged to contact the Managers for further advice and assistance.”
North P&I Club also said that any member that had fixed vessels to load bauxite cargoes from Kuantan should contact the club for assistance.