Overweight containers continue to present a hazard to seafarers and their ships long after the problem was brought out into open when MSC Napoli foundered. Crass excuses continue to made for what BIMCO’s Watchkeeper calls “cavalier behaviour that remains unacceptable” and what MAC would describe as venial greed.
In his latest article Watchkeeper cites a case from the Nautical Institute’s Mariners’ Alerting and Reporting Scheme:
“Aboard what was described as a “large” container ship loading at its final port before an oceanic voyage, it was determined by the vessel that there had been “substantial under-declaration” in the manifested container weights being loaded at this port, which was later estimated to average out over the 350 boxes loaded at 12%. Because of this, the ship was judged to be in serious danger of grounding in the draught restricted channel on the way to the open sea.
At the last minute some 850 tons of ballast were temporarily discharged from the vessel’s heeling tanks to enable the ship to sail safely. But it was also discovered that stack weight limits had been exceeded in many of the deck stacks, as so many of these overweight containers had been loaded on the deck stowage“.
Those stuffing these containers are uninterested in the effect this overage will have on the vessel’s arrangements and terminals are reluctant to play their part in resolving it, fearing, possibly, the loss of business to more forgiving ports with less concern for the welfare of ships and their crew.
…all too often container terminals seem unable or unwilling to make an issue about overweight boxes, even when these are discovered at the gate or in the terminal. Insufficient effort is made in many countries to persuade those stuffing containers that weights can be critical and should not be exceeded. But all too often the attitude of those who have hired the container is that they can keep loading it until the doors are just able to close. It is just not good enough in 2011.