NCB launches second container inspection initiative to battle the dangers of misdeclared cargo

National Cargo Bureau (NCB) has launched a second container inspection initiative to combat the persistent threat posed by misdeclared cargo. In a determined response to these sobering revelations and escalating concerns around ship fires, particularly those stemming from lithium-ion batteries, NCB is enhancing its inspection initiative. Several major shipping lines including Hapag Lloyd, Maersk and MSC have committed to the initiative, and container inspections have already commenced in various locations around the world.

As Allianz explained in its 2023 Safety and Shipping review, labelling a cargo as dangerous is more expensive and therefore some companies try to circumvent this by labelling items such as fireworks as toys, or lithium-ion batteries as computer parts for example.

Five years prior, NCB had again joined forces with industry leaders, Maersk, Hapag Lloyd, and MSC, in a trailblazing effort that laid bare the disconcerting realities within container transport safety.

Key findings from the analysis:
– 55% of inspected containers were non-compliant
– 43% of containers failed due to poorly secured dangerous goods
– 6.5% were found to be carrying mis declared dangerous cargoes.

Subsequent inspections, performed by NCB, have continued to reveal poorly stowed containers as well as undeclared and mis declared shipments of dangerous goods such as charcoal, flammable liquids, and used lithium-Ion batteries.

A recent, targeted remote container inspection program conducted by NCB in South Africa for a major shipping line revealed a 74% failure rate due to non-compliant loads with 37% observed to be stuffed with mis declared and/or undeclared dangerous goods.

The initiative will continue to ramp up over the third quarter and all ocean carriers are invited to apply and take part. NCB is encouraging broader participation from industry for a more comprehensive view on container risks globally. Container inspections performed by NCB as part of the initiative are being offered to carriers free of charge.

Ian Lennard, NCB President and CEO said, “Given the imminent and substantial risk – foremost to human life, but also extending to the vessels, their cargoes, and the environment, it’s imperative the industry continues to work together to improve safety by increasing cargo compliance.

NCB expects this second round of inspections to expose further container deficiencies but, hopefully, reveal improvements since the first initiative.

The ultimate goal is to further magnify problems and recommend corrective actions for future safety improvements, driving an industry-wide shift towards a safer maritime environment.

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