London, 27.05.15 – Most ports and terminals around the word are aware of the operational impact of mega-container vessels. Indeed, TOC Events has devoted many hours of expert debate to this topic.

But do they also represent a greater liability risk? At TOC Asia 2015, TT Club’s Phillip Emmanuel put into perspective some of the more sensational claims regarding ultra-large container carriers (ULCCs) and the risks they might pose to the safe operation of a terminal.

Mr. Emmanuel advised ports and terminals to take a measured approach to risk management, looking carefully at the ramifications to their own facilities of potential larger ship calls.

Outlining the Club’s position, he explained that the potential for damaging incidents to occur is generally more a factor of the individual adoption of best practice, sound maintenance and the application of efficient safety measures, rather than the size of ship or volume of cargo, per se.

It is clear, he stated, that the largest of the container ship newbuilds, now capable of carrying nearly 20,000 TEU, cannot and will not call at the majority of the world’s terminals. However, their introduction onto the Asia-Europe trade will displace smaller vessels, which in turn will be deployed on trades, and call at ports, where previously they have not been seen.

“As such,” said Mr. Emmanuel, “Terminal operators should take precautions that are relevant to the specifics of their own operation. Bigger ships and greater container volumes will only augment the exposures that are already inherent in their current operations.”

The type of risk and the more common causes of insurance claims essentially remain the same, he said. Mr. Emmanuel outlined some of these gleaned from extensive TT Club analysis of its own claims records.

“The direct interaction at the berth between ship and terminal facility accounts for 31% of the total cost of claims for ports and terminals over the past five years,” he commented. “Indeed, the most valuable asset of any terminal, the quay crane, unsurprisingly represents the biggest single element, some 25%.”

Mr. Emmanuel said these statistics serve as a reminder to ports and terminals to consider not just berth length and depth, but also issues such as berthing and the capability of tugs, mooring lines and bollards. The analysis for ports and terminals highlights the impact and regularity of ship collisions with crane booms, crane brake and structural failure, hoist and spreader malfunctions, and crane collapse due to windstorms.

“These risks can all be minimised by efficient maintenance programmes, proper use of safety technology and adequate windstorm protection whatever the size of ship being worked,” he concluded.

The 19th TOC Asia Conference and Exhibition took place on 21-22 April 2015 at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore.