A fire aboard a vessel, whether at sea or in port, can be disastrous, severely damaging the ship and putting members of the crew at risk of severe injury and even death. One type of vessel that is particularly at risk of onboard fires is the container ship.
Container ships are cargo vessels that have been specifically designed to transport large quantities of cargo stored within ISO-standard intermodal containers (usually between 20 – 40 feet long). Container ships can transport thousands of containers at a time. Because of their standardized design and dimensions, these containers can be easily stacked one on top of the other, sometimes 6 to 7 rows high. Among the largest commercial vessels afloat, cargo vessels rival oil tankers and bulk carriers in size and carrying capacity. Today 90% of the world’s non-bulk cargoes are transported aboard container ships.
How Do Container Ship Fires Get Started?
Like any other vessel, container ships have to be properly maintained and their crews properly trained to reduce the risk of fire and other accidents aboard the ship.
A few of the common causes of container ship fires include:
- Overheating engines
- Faulty electrical wiring
- Galley mishaps
- Lightning strikes
Burn injuries can be severe, painful, and even life-threatening. Other injuries that can occur due to a container ship fire include:
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
The crew can also be at risk of drowning or hypothermia if they are forced to abandon ship because of a fire.
Dangers of Container Ship Fire Spreading
When a fire breaks out aboard a container vessel, it must be brought under control quickly to prevent the fire from spreading to the cargo containers. This can quickly transform an “incident” into a full-blown maritime disaster that places the crew and vessel in immediate danger.
Cargo containers can hold a whole host of flammable and combustible materials, including:
- Paper and wood products
- Petroleum-based fluids.
What makes the situation even more dangerous is the fact that most crews don’t know what’s actually inside the containers they’re transporting. Only a tiny fraction of the containers transported on container ships are ever inspected. This makes incidents of undeclared or misdeclared cargo common. Drugs, explosives, chemicals, weapons, ammunition, and even people are just a few of the items illegally transported using cargo containers.
How common are container ship fires? Do a quick Google search. Odds are there’s at least one container ship on fire somewhere in the world!
Seeking Compensation for Injuries Sustained in a Vessel Fire
Severe burns and other injuries caused by a container ship fire can require long-term medical care and prevent a seaman from ever returning to work. If you’ve been injured in a container ship fire that started due to negligence of the ship’s crew or owners, the Jones Act and other maritime laws give you the right to seek compensation for the physical, emotional, and economic losses caused by your injuries.
The Lambert Firm has been protecting the rights of injured seamen, longshoremen, offshore workers, and other maritime time workers since the 1970s. We’ve helped thousands of maritime workers all over the United States obtain the compensation they deserve after being injured in an on-the-job accident that should never have happened.
Contact The Lambert Firm to speak with an experienced maritime injury attorney about your claim. Most of our maritime injury cases are handled on a contingency basis, which means there are no upfront costs to our clients and we only collect a fee after we’ve secured your compensation.