ABS publish range of container ship firefighting notations

Fire on a container ship. Credit: Daniel Bockwoldt/DPA/PA images

Classification society ABS has published a broader range of notations for firefighting in container ship cargo areas in a new guide that they said is the first of its kind to address firefighting and safety systems of cargo holds of container vessels.

“Container carriers have grown much larger in recent years and the volume of cargo carried has expanded significantly. In addition, the nature of the cargo has changed. Fires involving containers, especially with the volume and type of cargo now being carried, are becoming more frequent and can present a significant risk to the safety of the crew and the vessel. Aligned with the ABS safety mission, we address this issue and provide guidance for the development of robust designs that are better suited to address this key industry challenge.” said Gareth Burton, American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) vice-president of technology.

While the basic Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requirements are incorporated by reference in the ABS Rules for Building and Classing Marine Vessels (Marine Vessel Rules), the new ‘ABS Guide for Fire-Fighting Systems for Cargo Areas of Container Carriers’ – recently published by ABS – has been developed to provide for further enhancement of the firefighting and fire protection capabilities for cargo areas of container carriers beyond that required by SOLAS. This latest guide from ABS replaces their existing ‘Guide for Fire-Fighting Systems for On-Deck Cargo Areas of Container Carriers’.

ABS’ newest container ship firefighting systems for cargo areas guide is intended for use by ship designers, builders, owners, and operators in the marine industry. As such, it specifies the ABS requirements for addressing fire safety in four key areas: firefighting for containers stowed on deck, firefighting for containers stowed below, fire safety of the deckhouse, and container hold flooding as a measure for firefighting.

The guide also specifies the ABS requirements and criteria for obtaining the following optional notations, the requirements of which are above and beyond current SOLAS and related industry regulations:

● CCH (Container Carrier House/Structures)

● FBC (Fire-protection Below-deck Container)

● CHF (Container Hold Flooding)

These notations address early fire detection, more efficient fire suppression, better protection of crew, and the safety considerations associated with cargo hold flooding as a means of firefighting.

This broader range of ABS notations join the already existing ABS container ship firefighting notations: FOC (Fire-fighting On-deck Container), FOC-R (Fire-fighting On-deck Container – Restricted), FOC+ (Fire-fighting On-deck Container Plus), and FOC-R+ (Fire-fighting On-deck Container – Restricted Plus).