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Fires on board container ships are an increasing problem on a global scale. Historically, these fires have proven to be extremely complex and difficult to manage - often with major financial losses and, in the worst case, loss of human life.

Container ships have significantly increased in size over the past decades, and this trend seems will continue towards ever-larger vessels. While economically impactful, this size increase also leads to even greater risks of fires during their voyages. Fires which are difficult to detect, to fight and extinguish, and which often can lead to losses of hundreds of millions of dollars for a single accident. A container fire onboard ship is a complex problem with many facets.

In the pilot project CONTAIN, DBI will address the issues in three main areas: technical, human and organization factors.

The central focal points of CONTAIN include: identifying, understanding, and modelling specific fire scenarios at a very high quality; determining the best suited technological solutions for detection and firefighting of Container fires; and finally interviews and workshops with relevant stakeholders from the industry to elucidate awareness related issues from personnel to organizational levels throughout the shipping chain.

The technical focus is on experimental work, investigating the potential mechanisms/causes of fire spread between containers, modeling selected critical fire scenarios to create new learning in the field, as well as gathering learning from historical fires.

In addition to technical solutions, so-called “human factors” are also being investigated which should be included in a fire strategy for a given container ship, along with investigating the best detection and extinguishing methods.

Finally, there will be a focus on the complex organizational shipping chain in the Container shipping industry.

Through this pilot project - CONTAIN, DBI’s goal is to address selected key points within each of these areas that then serve as the foundation for larger CONTAIN follow-on projects, involving full scale testing, extensive field studies, and development of new simulation tools.

Contain The project runs from: 1 November 2019 to 31 December 2020

Project Lead
Thomas Hulin
Head of Energy and Transport, PhD