Container Fire Trend Continuing Warns IUMI

The concern over the threat of fire on board of major container vessels shows no signs of receding according to one leading expert.

Astrid Seltmann, Analyst and Actuary with the Nordic association of Marine Insurers (Cefor) was speaking on a webinar organised by the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) analysing vessel losses and frequency.

Ms Seltmann, who is also Vice-Chair of IUMI’s Facts and Figures Committee said that the threat of fire and explosions on board were growing.

Whilst accounting for a small number of total vessels claims fires and explosions account for 23.4% of the claims costs and the trend toward ever larger vessels will only exacerbate the threat.

“We are seeing fewer numbers of vessels being built but those vessels are getting bigger,” she said.

In terms of vessel fires CEFOR has analysed their members’ claims and found that passenger vessels undergo the highest frequency of fire claims followed by mid-size cargo vessels, although she added that there are few large vehicle ro-ro vessels in operation.

The concern remains around the world container fleet.

“In term of container vessels, the highest frequency of fire is on the very large vessels in terms of size,” she added. “The more containers on a vessel the higher probability of a dangerous cargo being on board in a container.

“The concern is that container fires pose a major risk as they are difficult to extinguish, and they pose a greater threat to crews who are needed to fight the fires when they occur.

“There has been a clear upwards trend in terms of fire ion major vessels, and with the trend for bigger vessels they have a higher potential for fire given the number of containers inboards these vessels.”

Cefor also studied whether there is any correlation between speed and claims frequency given the increased use of slow steaming.

The study found that since the average speed of vessels fell so have claims.

Ms Seltmann said that there was a view that slower speed means less port stops and a higher ability to avoid collisions.

She added: “Since the IMO introduced the requirement for lower sulphur emissions, we have seen owners adopting different strategies to meet those requirements. Some have introduced scrubbers, others have switch to new fuels.

“We will be looking to see how claims may differentiate between those vessels in different methods to meet the IMO regulations but that will not be for this year.”

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