What is the difference between Group A and Group C cargoes under the IMSBC Code ?

Cargoes which may liquefy are cargoes which contain a certain proportion of fine particles and a certain amount of moisture. Such cargoes are designated as Group A under the IMSBC Code.

Cargoes designated as Group C will not liquefy regardless of the moisture content, and are therefore not hazardous.

In order to assess whether a given material may liquefy, Appendix 3 of the IMSBC Code specifies that any damp or wet cargo containing a proportion of fine particles should be tested for flow characteristics prior to loading.

  1. Cargoes can be tested using either the flow table method or the penetration test method, both of which involve increasing the moisture content of a sample until actual liquefaction is observed.
  2. For genuine Group C cargoes, this point is never reached and so no transportable moisture limit can be determined. As a result, any cargo which possesses a TML determined by either of these methods is a Group A cargo. However, it should be noted that some materials which are untestable by these tests may still liquefy, and as such are Group A cargoes. Similarly, any cargoes for which actual liquefaction occurs (for example by a flattening of the stow or large-scale cargo flow during ocean carriage) are Group A cargoes, independently of any tests carried out.
  3. On a practical level, Group A cargoes contain sufficient small particles that they can take on a muddy consistency if wet enough. Group C cargoes, by contrast, are gravel-like materials which never become muddy regardless of how wet they are, as any water added drains through the gaps between the particles. Simple qualitative tests to assess this can be carried out on the spot by taking a cargo sample and adding water to it to see if it turns into a mud-like consistency. If yes, the material is likely to be a Group A cargo.
Note :-

The primary   aim  of the  International   Maritime   Solid  Bulk  Cargoes  Code  (IMSBC Code), which   replaces  the Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (BC Code),  is to facilitate  the safe stowage  and shipment  of solid bulk  cargoes  by providing   information   on the dangers associated  with  the shipment  of certain  types  of solid bulk  cargoes  and  instructions   on the procedures  to be adopted  when  the  shipment  of solid  bulk  cargoes  is contemplated.

The IMSBC  Code,  adopted  on  4  December   2008  by  resolution   MSC.268 (85l,   entered  into force on 1 January 2011, from which  date it was made mandatory  under the provisions  of the SOLAS Convention.  The Code  was  amended   by  resolution   MSC.318 (89),   incorporating   amendment 01-11, which   entered into  force  on  1 January  2013.  The  Code  was  further   amended   by resolution   MSC.354(92),   incorporating amendment   02-l3,  which  may be applied  from  1 January 2014 on a voluntary   basis, anticipating   its envisaged official  entry  into force  on 1 January 2015,

IMSBC Code is supplemented by  the Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading  of Bulk Carriers (BLU  Code including  BLU  Manual) & recommendation on  the safe use of pesticides  in ships applicable   to the fumigation   of cargo  holds.  It also includes  a directory of  contact   names and  addresses of offices  of  designated  national  competent   authorities   responsible  for the safe carriage of grain and solid bulk  cargoes.  IMSBC Code and supplement   is commended   to Administrations, ship owners,   shippers  and  masters  and  all  others  concerned   with  the  standards  to  be  applied   in the  safe stowage and shipment  of solid  bulk  cargoes, excluding  grain.

About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.

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