Container (CTU) fire safety - Time for change

News & Insights 4 November 2021

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We are pleased and honoured to publish an article written by David Townsend, Principle Fire Investigator at Andrew Moore & Associates Ltd. focused on the prevention and handling of fires, design of the container box or cargo transport unit (CTU) and changes in the use and construction of the CTU that will enhance fire safety.

Container (CTU) fire safety - Time for change

In recent years the maritime industry has seen an increase in the number and value of container ship related casualties. These claims are usually related to stack collapses, lost containers and fires on board. For many years the Standard Club has been advocating for an improved due diligence during the booking process to prevent misdeclared cargoes from being loaded on board ships. More information on this can be found in our 2018 publication ‘better box booking’.

Stack collapses and lost containers are a more recent development, and the club is involved in a number of industry working groups looking at the issue of securing arrangements on board ships. More news on this will follow once available.

At the Safety@Sea week, organised by The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore in August 2021, a plenary session was included to discuss ‘Safer carriage of goods – what more must be done?’. One of the panelists, David Townsend, Principle Fire Investigator at Andrew Moore & Associates Ltd. raised an area that has so far not been explored yet, which is the container box or cargo transport unit (CTU) itself. The CTU has largely remained unchanged since its inception over 70 years ago. He argued that the design and use of the CTU should be changed, in a logical and progressive manner, to improve fire safety throughout its logistical chain but particularly at sea.

We are pleased and honoured to publish David’s article, expanding on this topic and proposing changes in the use and construction of the CTU that will enhance fire safety. Whilst these suggestions all come with a definite price tag, it is important to weigh these costs against the importance of improved safety within the container shipping industry. We hope that these suggestions will spark a constructive debate and gain momentum, ultimately leading to regulatory changes.

We would like to thank David Townsend for this article, available to download below.

Category: Loss Prevention

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