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Overheat: EU project for fire protection on container ships starts

Caption: April 2017: Fire on the "MSC Daniela"

Using drones and sensors: a new EU project entitled “Overheat” is being launched to prevent and combat fires on container ships.

Container ships play a crucial role in world trade, transporting around 90% of globally traded goods by volume and value. Despite their importance, modern large container ships are often built according to outdated design principles without paying sufficient attention to potential safety and environmental implications. Several devastating container ship fires in recent years have put the issue on the maritime agenda, with pressure coming from the insurance industry time and again. New solutions are now being sought. [ds_preview]

The maritime transport industry is facing the challenge of fighting and preventing fires on container ships. This is why the EU-funded research project “Overheat – Innovative Strategies for Containership Fire Prevention and Management” was launched. “Cargo fires are one of the biggest threats to this type of ship (including ferries with containers on truck trailers). On the one hand, fires cause large losses of people and/or cargo, and on the other hand, fires affect coastal areas and marine protected areas. There are currently no regulations for the installation of fixed fire detection systems above the weather deck of a container ship,” is how the project homepage describes the initial situation.

Overheat aims to create a system of drones and sensors

The project primarily aims to prevent and manage fire accidents on board container ships should they occur. The focus is on new types of fire management solutions for prevention, early detection and response, “which are key aspects for ensuring the safety of people and protecting the environment”, it says. The development of a digital solution is intended to provide an overall picture of the situation on board and in the ship’s surroundings. In addition, the integration of IoT sensors (stationary and mobile) and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will provide an ad hoc system for the prevention, early detection and rapid response to fires.

Overheat aims to bring about a “truly new generation” of digital fire management solutions: complete, seamless, real-time and compliant with IMO regulations (integrated with the ship’s IT infrastructure). The impact of the proposed solution will be assessed first by conducting validation activities in a simulated environment and then by conducting demonstration activities in a real environment, with use cases identified, described and detailed during the research activities to prove the feasibility and benefits.

A wide range of stakeholders, including shipping companies, port administrations, public authorities, policymakers, business associations and academic participants, will be brought together within the project. Its main objective is to promote knowledge and technologies to prevent and manage fires on container ships. The Bremen Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) is also involved and will focus on analyzing existing prevention systems and measures, the requirement profiles of the various parties involved in combating and preventing fires on container ships and reviewing the project results.

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