Offshore containers are a crucial aspect of the offshore industry. But what defines an offshore container? And what sets them apart from standard shipping containers (ISO)? This article aims to provide you with a basic understanding, so you’re not in doubt of their features and can tell them apart!
What is an offshore container?
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) defines an offshore container as a “portable unit for repeated use in the transport of goods or equipment handled in open seas to, from, and between fixed and/or floating installations and ships”. Moreover, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) classifies offshore containers into the following three categories:
Offshore freight container:
An offshore freight container is intended for transporting goods, such as general cargo containers, cargo baskets, boxes, and gas cylinder racks. Offshore portable tanks are also included in this category and must comply with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code.
Offshore service container:
An offshore service container is a specialized offshore container, designed for a particular task and is usually temporary in nature. Some examples include workshops, labs, and control stations.
Offshore Waste Skips:
An offshore waste container is designed to hold waste and can be either an open or closed container.
Offshore Containers VS. ISO Shipping Containers
Offshore containers originated from the conventional ISO shipping container, that came into use in the 1950s. However, standard ISO containers and offshore containers differ significantly regarding three main points:
1. Enduring Harsh Environments
Offshore containers are frequently exposed to harsh weather conditions on the decks of supply vessels or while being loaded onto platforms. This means that they need to be designed to withstand these conditions, with a minimum design temperature specification of -20° C and material of sufficient toughness for -20° C.
2. Managing Loading and Unloading:
Unlike ISO freight containers that can be lifted with typical lifting equipment such as spreader beams, offshore containers are often loaded and unloaded using different methods that put unique stresses on their structures. For this reason, they are equipped with a permanently installed sling set and typically lack corner castings.
Most offshore containers are specifically built to fit a particular piece of equipment and therefore do not fit into the standard specifications of ISO containers.
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