Europe and China need US-style coast guard services to limit cargo losses

Uwe-Peter Schieder, a captain with the German Insurance Association (GIA), believes Europe needs to develop a coastguard service similar to that of the United States to help weed out misdeclared cargo.

Scheider, who works in marine and loss prevention at GIA and is vice-chairman of the International Union of Marine Underwriters’ Loss Prevention Committee, said The Loadstar shipping companies didn’t know if they were carrying overweight or dangerous goods – or even what was in the loaded containers.

Mr Scheider said one-way lines could solve the problem of misdeclared cargo, whether overweight or unsafe, “it’s blaming your own customers, but it’s very difficult”.

He says shipping needs port state control, or what he calls “duck policing,” to do more.

“If the ports blame their customers, they will leave and move to another port – in Europe we have lots of ports, but in Australia it’s more difficult. In America the US Coast Guard is very efficient and we we need it in Europe and China.

The problem is getting worse because ships are getting bigger, he notes, but to find a solution, regulators need to get involved in holding ship operators accountable for their vessels, their crew and the environment. environment.

“If you ask the lines, they say the problem is misdeclared cargo, but they’ve had this problem for 30 years and what have they done?” Mr Scheider asked, adding: ‘They’ll say ‘we brought in the technology etc.’ “, But that is not enough.”

Following Pacific International Lines’ (PIL) decision to impose a $30,000 fine for overweight cargo, which was preceded by a similar carrier-imposed penalty on misdeclared dangerous goods in January, Scheider said that these penalties and standards should be enforced.

In the United States, the National Cargo Bureau does a very good job, but the industry must meet these standards globally, he says.

PIL is not the first line to set penalties for misdeclared goods; Evergreen and Wan Hai imposed fines of up to $35,000 in 2019, with OOCL and Hapag-Lloyd following their lead.

At the time, the TT Club’s director of risk management, Peregrine Storrs-Fox, said: ‘We welcome such initiatives, following a series of fires and growing concerns over the packaging of merchandise. We have worked with stakeholders throughout the supply chain to highlight the ongoing risks resulting from improperly packaged and misdeclared shipments.

Mr. Storrs-Fox has campaigned on these issues for more than a decade, but problems with misrepresentation persist. In 2020-21, there were 74 cargo fires on container ships according to Mr Scheider, but this figure is underestimated, he adds, because many fires on board go unreported.

“The crew will take care of it and won’t tell anyone,” he said.

Cargo losses from pile collapses have also increased, despite relatively low overboard losses this year in the fall of 2020 and in 2021, a series of major losses over the North Pacific winter. – from ONE Apus to the Maersk Essen and Eindhoven – losses amounted to thousands of boxes, with shipments valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.