Quantum for claims due to fires onboard ships surpass US$ 4 million

Quantum for claims due to fires onboard ships surpass US$ 4 million
Quantum for claims due to fires onboard ships surpass US$ 4 million

Between 2016 and 2022, the quantum for claims notified to the Shipowners’ Club caused by fires on board vessels was over US$ 4 million. Fire poses a threat to all vessel types, regardless of their size or operation and has the potential to result in severe injuries or the unfortunate loss of life and significant damage to or loss of a vessel.

The Shipowners’ Club, on analysing these incidents, observed that most took place in the engine room or when performing hot work operations and were attributed to a lack of effective procedures and poor housekeeping. The increased use and carriage of lithium batteries on board vessels also presents new challenges for operators with the likelihood of battery source fires starting to increase in frequency.

The Club encourages Members to perform thorough risk assessments in order to understand the potential fire risks that may be present on board, allowing for suitable preventative control measures to be put in place. The Club has also produced several fire prevention initiatives that may assist Members and their crew.

According to the most recent report by Allianz, cargo fires, in particular, are of growing concern. Mis-declared and dangerous goods are a recurrent issue for container shipping, while lithium batteries are an emerging risk for both container ships and car carriers, which are transporting growing numbers of electric vehicles, given existing counter-measure systems may not respond effectively in the event of a blaze.

As the report says, catastrophic fires on large vessels typically begin with combustible cargo, which then spreads rapidly and outpaces the firefighting capabilities of the crew.

The size and design of large vessels makes fire detection and fighting more challenging than traditional shipping, and once crew are forced to abandon ship, emergency response and salvage operations become more complex and expensive, and the risk of a major or total loss increases.

In fact, Safety & Shipping Review analysis shows there have been over 70 reported fires on board container ships alone in the past five years, including incidents such as the Yantian Express (2019), and the Maersk Honam (2018), which made headlines around the world.

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