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Self-Heating and Fire/Heat Damaged Cargoes

Hannafords has investigated cases of damage to bulk cargoes including coal, iron, soybeans, soybean meal and palm kernel expellers caused by heating.  However, not all fire and heat damage is caused by self-heating.

Some examples of cases involving human error that we have recently investigated include damage to cargoes as a result of hold lights being left energized after loading and spoilage of produce as a result of heating of bunker tanks.  Other cases that we have investigated were the result of degradation of cargo due to natural causes, which was exacerbated by poor storage conditions.  Factors associated with cargo spoilage involved longer than anticipated voyages, high-moisture content and high temperatures.

Early intervention by an expert can help minimize damage and subsequent losses.  Hannafords use the latest technology when investigating incidents of this nature, for example, the use of thermal imaging cameras can help detect parcels of hot cargo and is invaluable in locating the source of a fire in a smoke-filled hold.

At Hannafords, we have the expertise and experience to assist with self-heating cargo investigations.

The subject of storage of agricultural cargoes is a complex one with many variables to consider.  However, it is widely accepted that the three most important factors affecting the transportation of agricultural products are moisture content, temperature and cargo age.  Agricultural products are hygroscopic, which means that they will absorb or desorb moisture depending on the local humidity.  High moisture content promotes microbiological activity and increases the risk of self-heating during transit.  Similarly, high temperatures increase microbial growth and pest activity.  Agricultural products are best stored at low temperatures and low moisture levels. 

Agricultural products are not homogenous, consequently, there may be variability within a cargo in terms of disease load, moisture content or stages of self-heating.  Pockets of damage may occur within a hold when poorer quality parcels of produce are loaded with an otherwise sound cargo.  In order to avoid costly damage, good quality produce, low moisture, low temperature and short storage times on-board ships are recommended.

Hannafords are experts in self-heating cargo investigations.   For immediate assistance, please contact us by telephone or email and see the Hannafords difference.

If you have a marine/shipping problem, please contact our UK office for a rapid response.