Vinalines Queen – Dangers of Carriage of Nickel Ore

16 January 2012

The recent tragic loss of the supramax bulk carrier, Vinalines Queen, entered with the London P&I Club, has received wide coverage in industry media. Prior to the casualty, last contact with the vessel was whilst on a voyage from Indonesia to China loaded with a cargo of nickel ore and all but one of the 23 crew were lost. Whilst the circumstances of the casualty are currently subject to investigation, reports in the press have inevitably focused upon the possibility that the sinking may be attributable to a loss of stability caused by liquefaction of the cargo. The loss of the Vinalines Queen follows the sinkings of 3 vessels at the end of 2010 and other reported incidents of vessels suffering a loss of stability when loaded with nickel ore shipped from ports in Indonesia and the Philippines. The latest casualty serves as a stark reminder of the continuing dangers associated with the carriage of nickel ore, as highlighted in issues 42 (click here), 46 (click here) and 56 (click here) of the London P&I Club’s Stoploss Bulletin. Members attention is also drawn to the Club Circular dated 31 January 2011 (click here) addressing the safe carriage of nickel ore and in particular, the recommended precautions contained therein. As a consequence of this latest tragedy, an elevated sense of concern is being expressed throughout the maritime community with respect to the safety of this cargo. Members are therefore strongly recommended to make early contact with the Club should carriage of nickel ore be contemplated in order that the risks involved may be carefully considered in advance of loading.