544 - 09/07 - Communication in the container trade - Worldwide


The MAIB concluded in its analysis into a recent incident, where a container stack collapsed on a containership, that there are shortcomings in the flow of information relating to container stowage between the shippers, planners, the loading terminal and the ship.

The MAIB also considers that the presence in the transport chain of containers that have an allowable stacking weight below the ISO standard should be highlighted by appropriate marking and coding.

While the industry recognises that the master must approve the final loading plan, in practice the pace of modern container operations is such that it is very difficult for ship's staff to maintain control of the loading plan.

The safety issues identified in this investigation report, and other published reports, identify a compelling need for a Code of Practice for the container shipping industry.

The MAIB has therefore recommended the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS):

To work with industry to develop, then promote adherence to, a best practice safety code to ensure that:

  • Effective communications and procedures exist between all parties involved in the planning and delivery of containers to ensure ship's staff have the resources and the opportunity to safely oversee the loading and securing of cargo
  • Cargo securing manuals are comprehensive and in a format which provides ready and easy access to all relevant cargo loading and securing information
  • Loading computer programmes incorporate the full requirements of a ship’s cargo securing manual. Such computers should be properly approved to ensure that officers can place full reliance on the information provided


Staff Author