Health and safety

Insurers seeks urgent improvements to box ship firefighting systems

23 October 2019

The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has fired a warning shot over box ship fire-fighting capabilities following an escalation in numbers of onboard fires.

It stressed the need for improvements in crew safety and the environment and said the mis- and non-declaration of cargo was aggravating the problem.

Box ships are increasing in size and complexity and this will only exacerbate the problem, it said.

This year has already seen an alarming number of box ship fires including on the Yantian Express, APL Le Havre, APL Vancouver, the Grande America, E.R. Kobe and KMTC Hong Kong.

At a meeting organised by marine insurer and P&I Club Gard and attended by International Maritime Organization (IMO) representatives, flag states, ship owners, salvors, classification societies and insurers in Arendal, Norway, IUMI called for urgent improvements to onboard firefighting systems both on and below deck.

IUMI, in partnership with the German flag state, is seeking support from flag administrations and other maritime actors to raise its concerns for improvements onboard new box ships, consider the need to address the firefighting equipment of existing container vessels and press the need to revise the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) with the IMO next year.