THE annual report from the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners on bulk carrier casualties details a continued trend of increasing safety in dry bulk shipping.

The report illustrates a clear 10-year trend from 2014 to 2023 of improvement, with only one vessel and no lives having been lost in 2023.

These improvements have occurred in spite of a 20 percent increase in the number of dry bulk vessels since 2014, from 10,000 to a total of 12,200 internationally.

The current bulk fleet represents over 40 percent of world tonnage and carries 55 percent of the global transport work.

INTERCARGO chairman Dimitris Fafalios said, “We have come a long way since the ‘dark days’ of the 1980s, when we experienced many tragic losses of lives and vessels. These latest statistics reveal an impressive achievement, especially when considering the significant rise in the number of bulk carriers during this period.”

INTERCARGO say cargo liquefaction and other moisture related cargo failures contributed to the greatest loss of life (55 lives) over the past decade, while 21 bulk carriers were lost in that time, with groundings remaining the biggest cause of ship losses.

Mr Fafalios stressed that there was “definitely no room for complacency” despite the improvements in bulk safety, stating “Any loss of life is tragic, and the shipping industry must pay close attention to the contributing causes analysed in this report”.

The one bulk vessel that was lost in 2023 was a Chinese-flagged vessel whose hull was breached by ice in Russia’s Tartar Strait in March of that year. All crew members were safely evacuated.

The preceding decades’ statistics are a stark contrast to the period of 1990 to 1999, which saw 156 bulk vessels and 763 lives lost, an average of 15.6 and 76.3 per year, compared with 2014 to 2023 which saw 2.1 ships and 9.8 lives lost per year.