Early indications appeared to show that the incidents were linked to incorrect or contaminated gases being used in the refrigeration unit. The possible source was identified as the APM Saigon Shipping repair yard in Vietnam where all the boxes concerned had undergone gas system repairs and/or maintenance since the beginning of this year.
Various shipping lines, including Maersk Line and CMA CGM, have removed from service any suspect containers as a precaution and to allow inspection of the units to be carried out. Last month Maersk advised the World Shipping Council’s Safe Transport of Containers Working Group that it had experienced refrigeration units exploding for no apparent reason.
Some industry sources said that up to 8,000 containers across all major reefer unit manufacturers – Carrier, Daikin, Thermo King and MCI (Star Cool) – could be affected. Ports in the USA stepped up safety procedures after dock workers at the TraPac and SSA Marine terminals in Oakland, California refused to handle ships carrying reefer boxes or to plug in any units that had been handled in Vietnam. Similar action was expected at all European ports.