Solid bulk cargoes on barges - any regulations governing such carriage?


BIMCO assists a member with a query about whether there were any international regulations or recommendations governing the carriage of solid bulk cargoes on barges.

BIMCO answered the query with a short answer,"not until 2011".  The following recounts how the regulation came about and how it should be implemented.

The International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes ( IMSBC) Code governs the carriage of solid bulk cargoes, except grains. In 2011, the industry, including BIMCO, made a submission to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) proposing improvements to the IMSBC Code for solid bulk cargoes that may liquefy.

One of the proposals involved the transport of solid bulk cargoes on barges. This was formalised in Amendment 02-13 to the IMSBC Code with the following text incorporated therein under section 4 (Assessment of acceptability of consignments for ship shipment) of the said Code: 

4.3.4 If the cargo is loaded on to the ship from barges, in developing the procedures under 4.3.3 the shipper shall include procedures to protect the cargo on the barges from any precipitation and
water ingress.

This has to be read in conjunction with 4.3.3 which reads as follows: 

4.3.3 When a concentrate or other cargo which may liquefy is carried, procedures for sampling, testing and controlling moisture content to ensure the moisture content is less than the TML  (transportable moisture limit) when it is on board the ship shall be established by the shipper, taking account of the provisions of this Code. Such procedures shall be approved and their implementation checked by the competent authority of the port of loading. The document issued by the competent authority stating that the procedures have been approved shall be provided to the master or his representative.

Based on the above requirements, the shipper is obliged to provide procedures on how the cargo is to be protected from any form of precipitation or water ingress when it is carried on barges.  This is to ensure that a cargo’s moisture content remains below its TML.

For certain cargoes, like direct reduced Iron cargoes, it is strictly forbidden for these cargoes to be transferred between ships or barges during precipitation, as provided by the IMSBC Code.

To assist shippers and competent authorities at the ports of loading to comply with 4.3.3. of the IMSBC Code, the IMO issued guidelines for developing and approving procedures for sampling, testing and controlling the moisture content for solid bulk cargoes which may liquefy (MSC.1/Circ1454/Rev.1).


Ai Cheng Foo-Nielsen
in Copenhagen, DK


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