Credit score Canadian Coast Guard

By Charlie Bartlett

The rising prevalence of lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries being carried on containerships amid rising misdeclarations is a serious concern for marine insurers, specialists say.

Based on a latest Allianz International Company & Specialty (AGCS) report, misdeclared cargo has been implicated in various near-miss incidents just lately, with false declarations together with labelling them as ‘laptop components’.

In a single case, the US Coast Guard reported a hearth produced temperatures “scorching sufficient to create a gap by the metallic container’s construction”.

Battery fires are complicated sufficient that land-based hearth crews are having to introduce new, and typically experimental, measures to battle them.

Not like regular fires, they are often starved of oxygen and proceed to burn, and attempting to battle battery fires with water is usually unsuccessful and even makes issues worse, as a result of lithium reacts with water to type lithium hydroxide and flammable hydrogen fuel.

One of the best ways to extinguish them is by cooling down the person cells.

However specialists say ships’ onboard firefighting capabilities, particularly on massive vessels, are inadequate to sort out even atypical fires, in lots of instances.

“There are extra fires rising from misdeclared cargoes of batteries confirmed because the supply,” a consultant of marine insurers informed The Loadstar. “So it’s not hypothesis to say the issue is rising.

“There may be most likely no restrict to the dimensions of ships, as long as the components to handle danger are proportionately safe. However they aren’t. Firefighting methods are restricted when it comes to reaching excessive up. The variety of crew on board is restricted – lean manning has change into the accepted mannequin of ship operations.”

The implications are dangerous for car-carriers as properly, with rising numbers of electrical vehicles being transported. It’s has not been decided whether or not the presence of Li-Ion battery-powered vehicles was the reason for the hearth on Felicity Ace, however authorities are agreed that it was nearly actually an exacerbating issue. 

“Lithium-ion batteries are a identified difficulty for the delivery trade and the broader logistics trade, the place there have been various near-misses in ports and through transport,” stated Régis Broudin, international head of marine claims at AGCS, within the report. “Batteries usually are not solely a possible trigger of fireplace, in addition they worsen the issue, as battery fires are very tough to extinguish and have the potential to reignite, days or even weeks later.”

The TT Membership has urged provide chain stakeholders to make sure they know who the shipper is.