Breakbulk Cargoes - Jumbo Bags with Jumbo Claims

30 June 2023

The London P&I Club continues to see cargo damage claims arising from the carriage of dry chemicals in Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBCs), more commonly known as “jumbo bags”, which have been stowed in the same holds as breakbulk cargoes.

These claims are almost always on voyages in which handy sized bulk carriers load breakbulk cargoes in China. The stowage plan often appears to have been developed with only the discharge port rotation in mind. As a result, very high value steel products can be over-stowed with jumbo bags of dry chemicals which can be corrosive to steel, and the jumbo bags are then themselves over-stowed with general cargoes sometimes including trucks and buses. In many cases the jumbo bags burst, spilling the dry chemicals within the hold. The chemical cargoes are themselves damaged, but the spillage can result in significant further damage to the other cargoes in the hold. There have been multiple examples of shifting of stow or chemical spills which have resulted in cargo fires. In severe cases, improperly stowed mixed cargoes can result in significant incidents going beyond just cargo damage.

The Club’s review of these cases has highlighted that the breakbulk cargoes are almost never loaded and stowed in accordance with the principles set out the Code of Safe Practice for Cargo Stowage and Securing (CSS Code) or in accordance with the ship specific Cargo Securing Manual (CSM).

The failure to load in accordance with the CSS Code or the CSM is potentially prejudicial to P&I cover for both Owners and Charterers.

To highlight best practices and guidance, the Club has worked closely with Brookes Bell, a leading multi-disciplinary technical and scientific consultancy to provide guidance and good practice for stowing and securing FIBCs with other breakbulk cargoes. The full report can be accessed here.