CSSF e.V. - Guide to Safe Container Ship Operations

This new Guide to Safe Container Ship Operations is a strong indication of the CSSF’s commitment to continued improvement in safety. It objectively sets out the practices and procedures associated with safe container ship operations. These practices and procedures are meant to be challenging – but, having said that, in the vast majority of instances they are already being pursued by the CSSF’s members.

This Guide is not an inspection or audit checklist, nor is it a self-assessment document, and it is not intended to be a measure by which stakeholders may measure or compare one company with another. It is a living document that is expected to be periodically updated to reflect changing standards, requirements and expectations.  The practices and procedures described in this guide can be successfully implemented – indeed, everything included in this guidance has been used and has helped to achieve desired improvements.

The CSSF believes that the container ship companies which work towards the successful implementation of the practices described will indeed achieve improved safety and performance standards.

The Guide to Safe Container Ship Operations is limited in its scope to personal and operational safety. The document does not include security, environmental or crew welfare issues except where there are direct safety implications.

The members of the Container Ship Safety Forum represent a diverse mix of container operations and as such recognise that Companies have different safety management objectives and different management systems. To support that this guidance document is intended to help container ship owners, operators and managers develop their own procedures that fit in with and compliment their own company cultures and management systems.

It is intended to be ambitious and help raise safety standards within the container sector but it is not intended to contain prescriptive procedures or instructions and should not be used in that way.


CSSF e.V. - Industry Position on addressing container ship cargo fires

The members of CSSF are highly concerned about the many cargo fires onboard container ships originating from commodities that are carried inside the containers.

For the CSSF it is unacceptable that seafarers have to be concerned about their lives and wellbeing while doing their job due to dangerous cargo which is not managed responsibly by manufacturers, shippers and other parties in the supply chain.

Fire-fighting activities have one of the highest residual risks on board container ships and further mitigation is required both by developing preventive as well as resilience capacity in the supply chain and onboard vessels.

The CSSF does not want to be recognized as an extra regulator by setting new rules in addition to the existing ones, but wants to encourage with this paper Industry position on addressing container ship cargo fires all parties involved to look beyond minimum regulatory requirements.


Container Ship Safety Forum Press Release 03-2023

The CSSF welcomes the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian

Hamburg, 21 December 2023. The CSSF considers the establishment of the military coalition “Operation Prosperity Guardian” to be an essential step in addressing the current threat situation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and commends the participating nations for their commitment in ensuring the safety of merchant shipping in the area.


Container Ship Safety Forum Press Release 02-2023

CSSF calls on governments to restore safe merchant shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden

Hamburg, 18 December 2023. The Container Ship Safety Forum e.V. (CSSF) urges governments worldwide to restore safe merchant shipping in international waters of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The International Community must take all necessary measures immediately to ensure that ships' crews, assets and cargo remain unharmed when transiting the area.


Container Ship Safety Forum Press Release 01-2023

The Lifeboat needs to be reinvented

Hamburg, 08 May 2023. Lifeboats are an essential part of crew safety onboard every vessel but seafarers are way too often getting injured when launching the lifeboat. Instead of focusing on how to improve the lifeboat itself, focus has been on compliance and training. Container Ship Safety Forum e.V. (CSSF) calls for a reinvention of the lifeboat onboard cargo vessels.

Over the years, many seafarers have been injured – some of them fatally – while launching the lifeboat during evacuations or evacuation drills. Not because the lifeboats have not been compliant with safety standards, but simply because the launch of a lifeboat is a dangerous task to perform.

“We need to reinvent the lifeboat and its launching equipment onboard cargo vessels. For way too long, we have seen able seafarers being injured when launching lifeboats even though crews have been trained and the lifeboat is modern and fully compliant,” says Aslak Ross, Chairman of the CSSF. “Everyone knows we have a problem; seafarers are scared to launch lifeboats; however, no one has offered a plausible path towards a solution to the problem for cargo vessels. A change is needed to provide a safe environment for seafarers and to regain trust in lifesaving equipment,” he adds.

Known problem: In 2017, the UK Chamber of Shipping issued an article ‘Lifeboat drills: We need to save lives, not lose them’ in which they identified 60 fatalities during testing of lifeboats over a 10-year period. In the article, it was stated that simulation training could improve safety.

“Simulation and use of new technology is one way to conduct drills in a safer environment, and we support the intent to reduce the risk of accidents, however, it does not solve the core of the problem: Launching a lifeboat is too dangerous. And even though simulation has its advantages, it should only be used as a supplement to well-conducted onboard abandon ship drills where crews are familiarized with the ship specific equipment,” says Aslak Ross.

In the so-called hierarchy of controls – a 5-level system widely used in industries to minimize or eliminate exposure to hazards – training is on second lowest level to minimize risks, while removing and replacing the hazards are considered the two most effective actions to eliminate risks.

Therefore, the CSSF encourages the industry, classification societies, flag states and suppliers to launch innovation to replace current lifeboats with a safer technology. Alternative designs are already available for offshore installations and for passenger evacuation on PAX vessels through Marine Evacuation Systems (MES) and the like.

“Such systems should also be made available to cargo vessels without delay. It is long overdue to change the current environment and innovate to eliminate the risk of lifeboat accidents. We need approved systems that can be fitted to newbuildings – we need to safeguard our seafarers,” says Aslak Ross.


Container Ship Safety Forum Press Release 01-2022

30 member companies in the Container Ship Safety Forum e.V.

Hamburg, 18 January 2022. The Container Ship Safety Forum e.V. continues to grow: With MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. another major liner company has joined the forum as of 01 January 2022. “We are very much looking forward to be part of the CSSF and we aim to contribute with our knowledge and experience in managing container vessels to the continuous development of best practices in health and safety relevant operations”, says Dirk Van de Velde (Chief Officer HSSE at MSC).

Furthermore, as of 01 January 2022, Nordic Hamburg Shipmanagement GmbH & Co. KG has also joined the CSSF. Christian Schnell (Designated Person Ashore at Nordic) states: “Benchmarking and exchanging information in the forum will help us to assess and evaluate our own safety performance in the future.”

With these two companies joining, the CSSF has 30 members now and reached a significant milestone: More than 50% of the worldwide available TEU capacity on fully cellular container vessels is represented in the CSSF now.


Container Ship Safety Forum Press Release 01-2021

CSSF e.V.: Member Meeting / Two new members in 2021

Hamburg, 30 December 2021. The Container Ship Safety Forum e.V. held its last member meeting on 25 November 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was the fourth biannual member meeting in a row that took place in a virtual format. More than 40 persons representing the member companies of the forum attended the meeting.

Besides COVID-19 measures implemented by member companies, other health and safety related topics were discussed during the meeting. This included an exchange of best practices for safe pilot boarding arrangements on container vessels and a presentation on the grounding of the EVER GIVEN in the Suez Canal in March 2021. The representative of the ship manager of the vessel presented the case with valuable insights for all CSSF e.V. members.

Also, during the meeting, Aslak Ross (Head of Marine Standards at Maersk A/S) and Alfred Gomez (Director Marine Standards at Seaspan Ship Management Ltd.) were re-elected as First and Second Chairman of the CSSF e.V. Management Board.

Two new member companies joined the CSSF e.V. in 2021.
With Draco Buren Shipping Pte. Ltd. and Pacific International Lines Pte. Ltd. two more Singapore based companies joined the forum in 2021. The 28 members of the CSSF e.V. represent more than 45% of the worldwide available TEU capacity on fully cellular container vessels.


Container Ship Safety Forum Press Release 03-2020

Covid-19: Seafarers to be amongst the first groups for vaccination
Fire-fighting: CSSF e.V. releases position paper

Hamburg, 16 December 2020. For many seafarers, the situation has become unbearable. Due to Covid-19 tens of thousands of crew members have been stuck aboard their ships, many for more than a year now. Although crew changes have been made possible in some countries, the implementation remains very complicated. Even access to general medical assistance in some ports is still very difficult. “Seafarers are key workers and therefore, they must be amongst the first groups for vaccination, once available”, says Aslak Ross, Head of Marine Standards at Maersk A/S and First Chairman of the Container Ship Safety Forum e.V. (CSSF).

Physical and mental health on board – not only related to the coronavirus – remains top priority for all CSSF members. It was one of the major topics during CSSF’s video members’ meeting in November 2020, when 38 participants from 23 member companies exchanged ideas and experiences how to mitigate the stress on board. An example for best practices in this respect is the implementation of independent mental health helplines for those in need, on board and for relatives ashore.

Industry position on addressing container ship cargo fires.
During the video meeting, members have adopted the CSSF position paper on addressing container ship cargo fires. It is now available for download on the CSSF homepage. Amongst others, the paper covers positions on risk mitigation, enhancement of fire-fighting capabilities, casualty response and development of new solutions.

The next biannual member meeting is planned for 19 and 20 May 2021. Any container ship management company interested in joining the meeting is invited to contact the CSSF secretariat.


Container Ship Safety Forum Press Release 02-2020

CSSF calls on authorities to enable crew changes and guarantee medical support
Members support IMO’s appeal to governments

Hamburg, 16 June 2020. “In order to comply with international safety and employment regulations, and also for humanitarian reasons - crew changes must take place now. They cannot be postponed indefinitely”, says Aslak Ross, First Chairman of the Container Ship Safety Forum e.V. (CSSF) and Head of Marine Standards at A.P. Moller - Maersk. The business network urgently appeals to governments and authorities worldwide to facilitate crew changes and safe repatriation of seafarers. A steadily increasing number of the 1.5 million seafarers on merchant ships have not been able to leave the vessels and exceeded their contract terms by far due to COVID-19 imposed restrictions. To ensure safe shipping operations and to comply with international safety and employment regulations all CSSF members fully support the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) appeal to governments of 8 June 2020 to facilitate marine personnel travel options by giving them “key worker” status. The CSSF encourages coastal states to engage in constructive dialogue with operators. “It is our common obligation to ensure our seafarer’s health and safety while maintaining effective global supply chains”, emphasizes Ross.

Besides solutions for crew changes, physical and mental health on board remains top priority to the CSSF members – not only related to the coronavirus. Aslak Ross draws attention to this problem: “Since the outbreak of the pandemic, most countries have closed their borders, limited port accesses and shore leaves. With great concern members have experienced rejections from authorities around the world to both basic professional medical assistance to seafarers even in severe cases as well as to repatriation due to their physical or mental condition.”


Container Ship Safety Forum Press Release 01-2020

Shanghai Ocean Shipping joins Container Ship Safety Forum e.V.

Hamburg, 15 January 2020. The Container Ship Safety Forum e.V. (CSSF) welcomes the first member in the new year: Shanghai Ocean Shipping Co., Ltd. joins the industry association with effect of 01 January 2020. The company currently manages 177 container vessels for COSCO Shipping Lines Co., Ltd. with a total of 1,550,000 TEU.

“Across companies we pursue a common goal: the highest possible safety standards on board and best management practices. We welcome the CSSF as a network where its members can exchange industry information and benchmark safety performance”, says Capt. Jinyu Liang, representative of Shanghai Ocean Shipping Co., Ltd. in the CSSF.

Aslak Ross, First Chairman of the CSSF and Head of HSE & Marine Standards at Maersk A/S: “We are very pleased to welcome Shanghai Ocean Shipping Co., Ltd. as a new member of the CSSF. Thanks to the Asian heavyweight, the CSSF now represents about 45 percent of the TEU capacity of the global container ship fleet.”

The next biannual CSSF member meeting takes place from 13 to 14 May 2020 in Rotterdam. Container ship managers that are not yet members are welcome to participate as observers.