Are ports prepared for catastrophes on larger containers?

Concerns have been raised that the difficulties encountered putting out the blaze on containership Arauco in Hamburg Port at the beginning of September suggest that the ever-increasing size of container vessels could be changing the nature of a casualty in port.

Hamburg has two fire boats dating from the 1970s, but they are tiny compared with the size of modern commercial vessels. As the fire took hold it soon became clear that the fire department’s supplies of AFFF (aqueous film-forming foams) were insufficient. Additional quantities had to be borrowed from aircraft manufacturer Airbus and from Tamoil’s Holborn refinery. Fire department spokesman Torsten Wessely told local outlet MOPO that this was not uncommon. Nearby port cities were called on for more firefighters and more ships. In the end it took two days and a combination of water and foam to kill the fire in the hold of Arauco.