Liquefaction in DBMS

Dry Bulk Vessel

We recently received some feedback that, in DBMS we haven’t mentioned liquefaction – the process where a solid cargo, such as nickel ore or bauxite, behaves like a liquid. Of course the point is very valid; according to INTERCARGO’s Bulk Carrier Casualty report 8 bulk carriers and 109 seafarer’s lives have been lost to this hazard since 2010, despite the best efforts of International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC) which became mandatory in 2011.  

Within DBMS, we are developing a continuous improvement model for the whole dry bulk sector. It was decided, early on, not to focus on hazards that would only apply to a number of ship managers, but to address issues faced by all dry bulk managers, regardless if they are carrying ores, coal, agricultural products or any other dry bulk cargo. Having said that I am asking our review group to evaluate if we need to include specific guidance within DBMS on liquefaction. 

Furthermore, DBMS does provide expectations around cargo information, inspecting and preparing cargo spaces, stability and loading plans within subject area number 20 Cargo and Ballast, in this subject area we also reference IMSBC. Also, in subject area number 29 Emergency Planning and Crisis Management there is an expectation around having an emergency response plan in place, which should include procedures for cargo shifting.  More generally subject areas 22 Risk Assessment and Management, and 10 Crew Technical and HSSE Training are also relevant. 

The Standard P&I Club industry experts have recently produced a handout titled ‘Guidelines for the safe carriage of Nickel Ore’ which focuses on the recent trends in the export of this cargo type, including the banning of international exports of nickel ore by Indonesia. 

We are really pleased that people are reviewing DBMS with a critical eye; that is the purpose of having this period of publishing a draft standard. We really want DBMS to be a standard that is created by the industry for the industry.  Do you have any suggestions on how DBMS can be improved, please let us know by dropping an email to We are keen to hear what you have to say.