This news comes in a TT Club press release calling for more safety in container transport ahead of this week's UN International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) meeting of the Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC) in London.
'Such incidents are costing seafarer lives, result in loss and damage to goods and ships running into hundreds of millions of dollars, impact the environment and are significantly disrupting supply chains serving markets throughout the world,' said the TT Club press release.
The freight insurer said its primary concern was the problem of misdeclared dangerous goods, with some sources suggesting that container fires occur on a weekly basis and that a major container cargo fire engulfs a ship at sea on average once every 60 days.
There is a need for increased regulatory coordination and harmonisation. 'As a step towards the goal of true cargo integrity, we are calling on the IMO to initiate a correspondence group to advise on the best means of achieving such unified guidelines,' said TT Club risk director Peregrine Storrs-Fox.
For some time now the insurer has been drawing both industry and regulators' attention to the need for greater 'cargo integrity', by which is meant the safe, secure and environmentally sound packing, handling and transport of all goods in containers.
'Achieving such cargo integrity across the complex web of the international freight supply chain is a big ask and we are in little doubt that a comprehensive result will take time to achieve,' said Mr Storrs-Fox.
'However many industry bodies are making significant strides, particularly in the areas of dangerous goods identification, declaration and handling as well as container weighing and packing,' he said.
'We are calling on the regulators, in this case the IMO, to assist in taking action to identify appropriate legislative and behavioural change that will improve safety and certainty of outcome,' said Mr Storrs-Fox.