current provisions as insufficient taking into consideration the growing size
of the container vessels coupled with too many recent fire accidents, the
International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has called for better
fire-fighting systems on board the container vessels.
Recent examples of fires include those on NNCI Arauco (9,000
TEU) in September 2016 during welding operations whilst alongside in
Hamburg, Hanjin Pennsylvania (4,000 TEU) in November 2002
claiming the lives of two crew members and resulting in a constructive total
loss; and MSC Flaminia (6,732TEU) in July 2012, resulting in
three fatalities and also a constructive total loss.
The regulations, IUMI pointed out,
framed for general cargo vessels where freight is stored openly in holds are
not now ‘suitable for a modern containership’. When the fire breaks out, there
is smoke in the hold which makes quick detection of fire thus driving to act
quickly with CO2 which can be used directly on the fire.
If the fire breaks out in the open sea
or in remote locations, it will be hours before an effective assistance reaches
the place, thus exposing the crew to dangers; the delay will damage the cargo,
the vessel and the environment also.
has published a position paper to support its view that more must be
done to improve the safety of crew, the cargo and ships in terms of fire
detection, protection and firefighting capability.
Although SOLAS Chapter 11-2/10 was
amended at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2014 by MSC 92 to
specifically increase the effectiveness of firefighting on containerships, the
tougher regulations only apply to ships constructed after 1 January 2016.
IUMI said concerns remained about
firefighting arrangements on ships built before then and believes the stricter
regulations still “do not go far enough”, in view of the substantial increase
in containership size over the past few years.
It is supporting a best practice
proposal presented by the German insurance association, GDV, which has set out
an “improved concept” for firefighting facilities on containerships.
Uwe-Peter Schieder, marine loss and
prevention at GDV, explained: “We suggest creating individual fire compartments
below deck to prevent fire from spreading.
“These compartments would be fitted with
fixed CO2 and water-based firefighting systems. Boundary structures would also
be fitted above deck to align with the water-cooled bulkheads below and also
fitted with fixed firefighting systems.”
Additionally, Mr Schieder recommended
the installation of enhanced fire detection systems.