In a bid to stamp out misdeclared cargoes, Maersk has started carrying out random container checks in North America. This is the latest measure by the Danish carrier as it attempts to find solutions to the spate of fires that have broken out on boxships in recent years, including its own 15,000 teu Maersk Honam last year, which resulted in the loss of five lives.
Maersk’s physical container inspection pilot is currently performing inspections for import and export cargo into the ports of Newark Berth 88, Houston Bayport, Miami Pomtoc and New Orleans Ceres terminals.
The randomly selected containers are being inspected by National Cargo Bureau, and the cost for this inspection will be paid for by Maersk. If a container is discovered to be inadequately stuffed, lashed, and secured, or found to contain mismatching cargo compared to the given declaration, shippers could face paying a higher bill.
The data collected through this pilot may be used to develop procedures that better ensure the accuracy of cargo descriptions provided to Maersk, as well as improve the use of the Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code), the company stated in a release.
“Maersk and other carriers in the industry are working to improve safety and reliability in the Containerized Maritime Supply Chain, by verifying that cargo descriptions match actual contents of the container, and that the contents of the container are correctly stuffed, lashed and secured,” Maersk stated in a note to clients.
Earlier this month a fire broke out on Hapag-Lloyd’s 7,500 teu Yantian Express and while no investigation has yet been possible, the case looks like another incident of a client failing to declare its cargo properly.
In the wake of last March’s fire on the Maersk Honam and another one which erupted in a container in the Maersk Kensington in the same month, the Danish liner has been working hard to make changes to how it carries dangerous goods, introducing last September a new set of principles called Risk Based Dangerous Goods Stowage.
Cargo covered under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code is now no longer stowed next to any Maersk ship’s accommodation and main propulsion plant which is defined as the zone with the lowest risk tolerance.
Statistics from insurer TT Club published this week show two thirds of incidents related to cargo damage in the intermodal supply chain can be attributed in part to poor practice in the overall packing process, including not just load distribution and cargo securing, but also the workflow from classification and documentation through to declaration and effective data transfer.