Insurers back cargo fire scheme with new technology seen as key

Two marine insurers have signed up to a scheme backed by some of the world’s biggest shipping lines to accelerate the technology to fight the rise in cargo fires on board vessels.

The UK P&I Club and TT Club have signed up to Safetytech Accelerator’s Cargo Fire & Loss Innovation Initiative (CFLII).

The Initiative, launched in February 2023, is a  multi-year collaborative technology acceleration programme focused on reducing cargo fires and loss in maritime and its impact. It is already supported by Anchor Partners COSCO Shipping Lines, Evergreen Line, HMM, Lloyd’s Register, Maersk, the Offen Group, ONE and Seaspan, which represent around 50% of the total liner shipping market.

The programme will help expedite the uptake of technology and best practice by identifying specific opportunities where technology can make a difference, shaping joint requirements, identifying technology solutions, undertaking trials and developing best practices and recommendations. It has already started working on solution for early fire detection in cargo hold.

Stuart Edmonston, loss prevention director at UK P&I Club, said, “We are really excited to join this initiative, to roll our sleeves up and get involved with the other Anchor Partners. Fires on board container ships keep happening, with depressing regularity, often resulting in tragic loss of life and catastrophic damage to ship and cargo. A large proportion of these fires are completely preventable, and we find that losses could have been mitigated by better practices. This is an industry-wide problem that requires collaboration. The only way to improve safety is to work together, share ideas, and identify and utilise modern technological solutions.”

Mike Yarwood, managing director of Loss Prevention at TT Club said the club has had a specific focus on cargo fires I recent months as the problems becomes more acute.

“As an insurer of many elements of the container supply chain, we have long campaigned for improved certainty for classification, declaration and packing of cargo in containers,” he explained.  “We look forward to engaging with fellow partners to improve safety and certainty of outcome in the supply chain.”

Global Containerships Segment director at Lloyd’s Register (LR), and chair of the Maritime Cargo Fire and Loss Initiative, Nick Gross said, “I’m very excited to have UK P&I and TT Club join CFLII, now bringing in the insurer’s perspective to our work with the other anchor partners, to combat the risk of cargo fires and to make container shipping safer and more sustainable.”

Rich McLoughlin, CFLII Programme Director at Safetytech Accelerator added: “We believe cross-industry collaboration around innovation is an essential component to reduce the incidence of large cargo fires and enhance the safety of seafarers and vessels. Together with the Anchor Partners we are already uncovering technologies and applications that have the potential to make significant progress to that goal.”