Shipping Container Fires – Is Your Cargo At Risk?

It seems that every year at least one cargo ship fire makes the headlines. This year we didn’t have to wait long!

On 3rd January the Hapag-Lloyd vessel “Yantian Express” caught fire. The 320m long ship, built in 2002, was on it’s route from Colombo to Halifax through the Suez Canal, when a fire broke out in a container on board.

Despite the crew’s efforts, the fire prevailed and spread, resulting in the crew abandoning ship. The firefighting efforts continued and the fire was brought under control after a week, but it was too late and the damage was already done.


What does a burning shipping container have to do with you?


The ship is currently on its way to the Port of Freeport, in the Bahamas. Once it arrives a full assessment of the damage can be done and salvage efforts can continue in a safer manner.

But one thing we do know is that the losses will be great.


Hapag-Lloyd has already declared General Average on the vessel, meaning that all losses will be divided up equally between the owner of the ship and all its customers. Before the cargo can be released all cargo owners will need to contribute to the general average fund.


This means big, unexpected expenses and big delays for everyone.


If you’re transporting goods via sea then you need to know the risks and make sure you’ve got the cover you need, should something unexpected happen.


How To Make Sure Your Cargo Is Safe


No matter how good your freight company is, there is always a risk. Statistics show that most cargo fires start due to undeclared goods in a container. There’s no way to fully protect against this. It’s just really potluck.

Choosing a good freight provider will offer you some protection. Good practices and processes can mitigate many risks, but not eradicate them entirely.

You need to be insured.

Here at Millennium Cargo, we’ve been in business over 20 years. We’ve shipped more than 100,000 thousand containers and only ever lost one. You may remember it? It washed up on the South Coast and made the headlines due to the looters who took advantage. That’s a sterling track record in the shipping industry.


But an excellent reputation isn’t all we’ve got. We’ve also got insurance. Lots of it.

I won’t bore you with the specifics, because let’s face it no one likes to talk insurance. But what I will tell you is that the safety of your cargo is our absolute top priority.

We’ve got the knowledge, experience and cover necessary to keep your cargo safe and ensure that you’re protected no matter what happens.

Not all freight providers do.

So next time you’re arranging your sea freight, ask the question. What cover do I have? A reputable and experienced company will be happy to explain your insurances and put your mind at ease.