The Hamburg Ship Model Basin

Setting the Standard in Ship Optimisation

Video 100 years

HSVA - News Archive

Liquefaction Website Launched


The LiquefAction project addresses the problem of iron ore fine cargo liquefaction on board bulk carriers under certain conditions. In the past these lead to fatal accidents and a significant number of ships were lost in the short period between 2007 and 2013 only. The ships capsized due to liquefaction of its cargo, i.e. change of state from solid to high density liquid, a phenomenon associated with ore cargo turning into liquid under a combination of moisture in the cargo holds, ship motions and vibration. The problem is well known to ship designers when large quantities of liquids with free surface onboard a ship exert uncontrolled shift of its centre of gravity (especially in heavy seas) and result in rapid loss of stability with catastrophic outcomes.

The 2005-built bulk carrier Vinalines Queen was reportedly carrying a cargo of nickel ore from Morowali, Indonesia to China and it was reported missing on Christmas Day 2011, considered lost. Twenty three crewmen were onboard, only one, Mr Dau Ngoc Hung, survived.

"I went down with the vessel when it became distressed. However, when the pull of the ship faded, I rose to the surface. I was lucky to catch a lifebuoy. […] A day later, the lifebuoy was overturned by heavy waves. I tried to find a lifeboat from Vinalines Queen and was successful. It had enough food, water and medicine for me until I was found by the British ship. […] The whole incident happened so fast we only heard the captain ask crewmen to put on lifejackets when the vessel started to list to one side. The waves were so strong. I was on the ship's foredeck at the time and the lifeboats had not been lowered. I was thrown off the ship as it started to sink. I got into a state of panic as everything on board was swept down, including myself. I could not see a thing […]".
Mr Dau Ngoc Hung
Sole survivor of the accident

The LiquefAction project examines the problem in a holistic approach, to consider all aspects that cause the liquefaction. These elements are, the cargo property (mostly influenced by the moisture contents), the design of the vessel and the sea condition it encounters during her voyage. The occurrence of liquefaction requires a combination of all three elements, making it necessary to investigate all of them.

At the end we would like to have identified the critical combinations of cargo properties, ship design & sea conditions that should be avoided. We expect to be able to give advice for counter measurements after liquefaction occurred and guidelines for safer design of bulkers carrying nickel and iron ores. Finally we also anticipate to improve the on board testing of cargo prone to liquefying.

The homepage for this project has been launched on March-17, 2016.
From now on we will inform you about improvements and other results on these pages.