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Published: 11 September 2023

The transport of liquids in flexitanks has become a common practice on board container carriers. However, the Club has seen several claims resulting from leaking of flexitanks which are mostly related to the loading, stuffing and filling of the flexitank within the container. Ensuring the secure transportation of flexitanks within containers on vessels requires strict adherence to safety protocols and industry standards. The following guidance outlines key considerations for Members to ensure the safe carriage of flexitanks.

  • No hazardous liquids: The carriage of hazardous liquids in flexitanks is not permitted under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code.
  • Suppliers’ guidelines: It is important to follow the guidelines provided by the suppliers of flexitanks at all times. This includes using specific container sizes, ensuring that only new containers are used and installing door bulkheads as required.
  • Inspection: Before fitting the flexitank, the container must be thoroughly inspected for any sharp edges, nails or similar defects that could damage the flexitank. The container should also be clean and odour-free. Any contaminants or debris inside the container could compromise the integrity of the flexitank and lead to leaks or other issues. Additionally, the floor and sidewalls of the container may be lined with cardboard or plastic covers to protect the flexitank.
  • Fitting: Only trained personnel should carry out the fitting of flexitanks. Incorrect assembly can cause chafing damage during the voyage, which can lead to costly repairs and delays. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the flexitank is securely fastened to the container and that all connections are tightened properly.
  • Selection of flexitank: It is also important to choose the right flexitank for the product being carried. Different products have different properties and requirements, and using the wrong flexitank can lead to compatibility issues, leaks, or other problems. For example, if the product being carried is highly corrosive, a flexitank made of the wrong material could be damaged or compromised, potentially leading to leaks.
  • Filling: The flexitank should be filled within the manufacturer’s guidelines, typically close to 100%, to avoid dynamic sloshing liquid stresses and the free surface effect on the vessel. Overfilling can lead to increased risks of leaks and spills, as well as reduced stability and manoeuvrability of the vessel.
  • Stowage: To prevent any issues during the voyage, the filling pipe must be stowed correctly, and the container doors should be closed properly to prevent pinching damage.
  • Declaration: When carrying flexitanks in containers, it is crucial to declare the contents accurately. This includes providing accurate documentation and labelling to ensure compliance with international regulations. Failure to do so can result in serious consequences, such as fines or even detention of the vessel.

Investigating the cause of flexitank damage can be complex due to the various potential sources of defects that can arise at different stages of the transportation process. A thorough investigation is necessary to identify root causes and prevent future occurrences.

Members requiring any further guidance are advised to contact the Britannia loss prevention department.