Military Pallets, Boxes and Containers – Part 3 Containers and Flat Racks

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Stepping up in size from pallets is the big metal box, the Intermodal Container.

Their impact on global commerce is well documented, the opportunity for military forces the world over to take advantage of the global supply chain was never going to be overlooked and so military forces the world over (or those that deploy outside of the barracks gate) make extensive use of containers and the container ecosystem.

The containers principal advantages; protection, reduction in handling and compatibility with ships, trains and vehicles is obtained when the container changes mode of transport i.e. intermodel. For distribution of stores in the same environment, ISO containers have very few advantages, here, the pallet is king.

Wikipedia gives a very good overview of the Intermodal Container, click here to view.

ISO 6346 defines the identification markings used on all containers, the full list of ISO standards that describe and define all things ISO container is here (have fun)

Hapag Lloyd publish a comprehensive guide, here

This post will look at containers in a military context, both in the logistics and shelter roles.

Logistics Containers

For the storage and carriage of general stores, bulk fluids, vehicles and other commodities there are a great many variations of the standard ISO container but the main one are in the tables below.

Dimensions

MM

FT – IN

External

  Length

6,058

  19’ – 10 1/2”

  Width

2,438

8’

  Height

2,591

8’ – 6”

Internal

  Length

5,898

  19’ – 4 13/64”

  Width

2,352

7’ – 8 19/32”

  Height

2,393

7’ – 10 7/32”

Door Opening

  Width

2,340

7’ – 8 1/8”

  Height

2,280

7’ – 5 49/64”

CU.M

CU.FT

Inside Cubic Capacity

33.2

1,170

Kg

Lbs

Maximum Gross Weight

30,480

67,200

Tare Weight

2,340

5,160

Maximum Payload

28,140

62,040

Allowable Stacking Weight (1.8G)

216,000

476,200

Dimensions

MM

FT – IN

 External

  Length

12,192

  40’

  Width

2,438

8’

  Height

2,591

8’ – 6”

Internal

  Length

12,032

  39’ – 5 45/64”

  Width

2,352

7’ – 8 19/32”

  Height

2,393

7’ – 10 7/32”

Door Opening

  Width

2,340

7’ – 8 1/8”

  Height

2,280

7’ – 5 49/64”

CU.M

CU.FT

Inside Cubic Capacity

67.2

2,373

Kg

Lbs

Maximum Gross Weight

 32,500

71,650

Tare Weight

3,800

8,380

Maximum Payload

28,700

63,270

Allowable Stacking Weight (1.8G)

192,000

423,280

Dimensions

MM

FT – IN

External

  Length

12,192

40’

  Width

2,438

8’

  Height

2,896

9’- 6″

Internal

  Length

12,032

39′ -5 45/64″

  Width

2,352

7′ -8 19/32″

  Height

2,698

8′ -10 7/32″

DoorOpening

  Width

2,340

7′ – 8 1/8″

  Height

2,585

8′- 5 49/64″

CU.M

CU.FT

Inside Cubic Capacity

76.4

2,700

Kg

Lbs

Maximum Gross Weight

30,480

67,200

Tare Weight

4,010

8,840

Maximum Payload

26,470

58,360

Allowable Stacking Weight (1.8G)

240,000

529,100

Dimensions

MM

FT – IN

External

  Length

13,716

45’

  Width

2,438

8’

  Height

2,896

9’- 6″

Internal

  Length

13,556

44’– 5 45/64”

  Width

2,352

7’– 8 19/32”

  Height

2,698

8’– 10 7/32”

Door Opening

  Width

2,340

7′ – 8 1/8″

  Height

2,585

8′- 5 49/64″

CU.M

CU.FT

Inside Cubic Capacity

86

3,040

Kg

Lbs

Maximum Gross Weight

30,480

  67,200

Tare Weight

4,780

 10,540

Maximum Payload

25,700

 56,660

Allowable Stacking Weight (1.8G)

216,000

476,200

Variations on the metal box theme are almost endless but hey all start with the basics;

The Hi Cubes get extra volume by increasing height

Various combinations of end doors, side doors, open top and folding types

Tank containers hold liquids and powders, these have been used in Afghanistan, the MoD specifically contracting with the German company WEW for 20 Fuel Dispensing Racks. Some manufacturers have built systems with integral pumping equipment and water purification systems.

The Fuel Dispensing Racks are not the same as the Unit Support Tanker (UST) or even the older Unit Bulk Refuelling Equipment (UBRE) because they cannot dispense fuel whilst mounted on the vehicle, instead, they are used to create forward refuelling points.

WEW Fuel Dispensing Rack
WEW Fuel Dispensing Rack
WEW Fuel Dispensing Rack
WEW Fuel Dispensing Rack

Containers can be used for frozen stores or those requiring specific temperatures, these are called reefers and can be powered by onboard or offboard sources.

There are many more variations; pallet wide, 50 foot, bulk, waste, car carrier, curtain side, open side, half height and cassette containers.

ISO containers have been used to deploy vehicles and other large equipment, 105mm Light Guns and associated equipment into the Balkans for example and the image below shows a CVR(T) being driven into an ISO container for a deployment exercise in the 1980’s

CVRT) Spartan being loaded into a container on Exercise Lionheart 1984
CVRT) Spartan being loaded into a container on Exercise Lionheart 1984

Non Logistics Containers

I think it would be fair to say Think Defence and the MoD are on the same wavelength when it comes it exploiting the advantages of the ISO container format!

The current ISO container format special containerised systems in service are as follows;

  • Power Pack Repair Facility (PPRF) – Qty 4 systems
  • Deployable Machine Shop (DMS) – Qty 46
  • Portable Tyre Repair Facility (PTRF) – Qty 6
  • Portable Tyre Repair Facility – Run Flat (PTRF-RF) – Qty 1
  • Deployable Battery Charger Unit (DCBU) – Qty 6
  • Tactical Reconnaissance Deployable Imagery System (TARDIS) TIW – Qty 3 systems
  • Special Avionic Instrument Network System and Basic Unit Repair Installation-E (SAINSBURI-E) – Qty 3
  • Containerised Computed Tomography Scanner (CCTS) – Qty 1
  • Deployable Engineering Workshop (DEW) – Qty 3
  • Combined Instrument Repair Facility (CIRF) – Qty 13
  • Transportable Container Operational Portable Office (TCOPO) – Qty 338
  • Mobile Roller Brake Tester (MRBT) – Qty 13
  • Bulk Medical Storage Facility (BMSF) – Qty 14
  • SEAFOX – Qty 14

A few specific examples from this list and one or two others;

Deployable Machine Shop (DMS)

Instead of the old box body ‘masshy wagon’ Royal Engineers, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines engineers can now make use of the containerised ‘Deployable Machine Shop’. Marshals Land Systems completed delivery of the shelters in April 2011 and they have been a great success.

Containerised Computed Tomography Scanner (CCTS)

The Marshall portable CT scanner features a Philips Brilliance CT 64 slice Ingenuity CT scanners designed specifically withstand shock and vibration and variances in environmental conditions.

A real life saver, even the French have bought some

Marshall container CT Scanner undergoing test
Marshall container CT Scanner undergoing test

Containerised Deployable CT SCanner

Deployable CT Scanner 02

Deployable CT Scanner 03

Deployable CT Scanner 04

Deployable Engineering Workshop (DEW)

Not to be confused with the Deployable Machine Shop (DMS), the much larger Deployable Engineer Workshop (DEW), supplied by G3 Systems, supports Royal Engineer artisan trades such as carpenters, fabricators, welders, fitter machinist’s, builders,  structural finishers, electricians , utilities engineers and petroleum engineers. Each trade has a bay linked to the large central Main Working Area (MWA).

All the bays are housed in 20 specially adapted DROPS compatible 20ft ISO containers, trailer mounted generators (FEPS)

The full £1.2m DEW comprises;

  • ME Fabricator and Blacksmith – two containers
  • ME Carpenter and Joiner – two containers
  • ME Fitter Equipment and Welder – one shared container
  • ME Fitter Utility and & Petroleum Fitter ACR (Air Conditioning & Refrigeration) – one shared container
  • ME Electrician and ME Fitter H&P (Heating & Plumbing) – one shared container
  • Planning Staff & Draughtsman – one shared container
  • ME Building and Structural Draughtsman – one shared container
  • Main Work Area Storage Container – doubles as a Stores Container when Main Work Area Shelter is deployed
  • Forward Deployment and Utility Container (FDUC) – provides a forward deployable capability independent of the main hybrid. System acts as a general Utility Container when not on deployment
  • RACU Container – housing the environmental conditioning equipment for the Main Work Area shelter

All the containers and shelters are supplied by Ably Shelters (Denholm Defence), the RACU and EXTENDA being specific examples

The Main Work Area (MWA) provides a large open space (242 square metres W 11.5m x L 21m) that allow vehicles to access the space and for handling large work items, FOB gates for example. DEW can be operational within 12 hours, although planning assumptions are longer to allow site preparation.

Bulk Medical Storage Facility (BMSF)

Each BMSF is based on a 20ft ISO container and is designed to maintain the temeperature of medical supplies such as blood (red cell concentrate), blood components (fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate) and pharmaceutical products in frozen, refrigerated (4 °C) or ambient (20 °C) temperatures simultaneously when the external temperatures rise as high as +58C or drop as low as -26C. The containers can use offboard or integral power and were supplied under a £2.9m contract. Each can store units of blood, plasma

Major Stephen Smedley, the MoD Responsible Person for Blood, said:

This will significantly enhance our transfusion capability in the field. This will allow us to ship and store the equivalent volume of a small hospital bloodbank safely and securely. The Bulk Medical Storage Facility and the man-portable refrigerators are an essential requirement to allow us to continue to supply blood in support of UK Forces worldwide and these refrigerators will significantly enhance this capability on the frontline.

The containers supplied to General Dynamics (Aneton Division) by Dometic in the Netherlands and the cooling units are Oasis 350MT‘s from Transicold Europe powered by a small diesel engine or off-board power.

Bulk Medical Storage Facility 01
Bulk Medical Storage Facility 01

 

Bulk Medical Storage Facility
Bulk Medical Storage Facility
Bulk Medical Storage System
Bulk Medical Storage System
Bulk Medical Storage System
Bulk Medical Storage System
Bulk Medical Storage System
Bulk Medical Storage System

Tactical Reconnaissance Deployable Imagery System (TARDIS) TIW

The TARDIS is used by personnel in the RAF’s Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing and consists of a single ISO storage container and two expandable 20ft ISO containers. Multiple TARDIS cabins can be linked together

TARDIS
Tactical Reconnaissance Deployable Imagery System (TARDIS)

TARDIS 01

TARDIS 02

TARDIS 03

TARDIS 05

TARDIS 06

Watchkeeper

The Watchkeeper Remotely Piloted Airborne System (RPAS) makes use of the ISO container format for both air vehicle storage and transport and the ground Control Station (GCS)

Thales Watchkeeper Ground Control Station
Thales Watchkeeper Ground Control Station
Watchkeeper Ground Station
Watchkeeper Ground Station
Thales Watchkeeper Air Vehicle Container
Thales Watchkeeper Air Vehicle Container
Watchkeeper Afghanistan
Watchkeeper Afghanistan

Military Working Dog Shelter

In Afghanistan, military working dogs comprised a significant element of the force protection package and to keep them in tip top condition, you have to look after them. These containers from G3 can house 4 dogs each.

Base ISTAR

This was originally housed in a single 20ft ISO container but was subsequently split into 10ft ISO size units in order to facilitate Chinook sling loading.

Base ISTAR 20ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 20ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 20ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 20ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 20ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 20ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 20ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 20ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 20ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 20ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 10ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 10ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 10ft ISO Container
Base ISTAR 10ft ISO Container

Fitter Section in a Box

Marshal Land Systems have recently supplied a number of Fitter Section in a Box (FSIB) which is a deployable vehicle maintenance bay complete with inflatable shelter to allow maintenance of protected vehicles under cover. FISB comes in a single container with two inflatable shelters and its own generator to enable a small fitter section to work during the night and use compressed air tools.

Fitter Section in a Box
Fitter Section in a Box
Fitter Section in a Box
Fitter Section in a Box

Fitter Section in a Box 02

Fitter Section in a Box 03

Fitter Section in a Box 04

There are many others…

Deployable Ablutions Unit ISO Container
Deployable Ablutions Unit ISO Container
command centre shelter for the UK's Land Environment Air Picture Provision system (LEAP) ISO Container
command centre shelter for the UK’s Land Environment Air Picture Provision system (LEAP) ISO Container
ISO Container Washing Facility
ISO Container Washing Facility
ISO Container Generators
ISO Container Generators

Used by the RAF for charging aircraft and vehicle batteries

Battery Charger ISO Container

Royal Engineers Tactical Map Dissemination Point (TDMP) based on a ISO container
Royal Engineers Tactical Map Dissemination Point (TDMP) based on a ISO container

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Submarine-Rescue-System

Picture-1-NSRS

Marshall Land Systems Safebase Armoured sangar at FOBEX
Marshall Land Systems Safebase Armoured sangar at FOBEX

Tire Repair Container

Used by the RAF to contain Instrument Land System (ILS) equipment

Air Traffic Control ISO Container

This has two compartments of equal size, the first is for Day/Night Sight repair and the second, laser repair.

Combined Instrument Repair Facility
Combined Instrument Repair Facility
Operational Portable Office
Operational Portable Office
Welfare Communications Container
Welfare Communications Container
Surveillance Control ISO Container
Surveillance Control ISO Container

Even the Royal Navy use ISO container based systems, the SEAFOX system detailed in the list above consists of 8 magazine racks containers, 4 dive stores conatiners and 2 munitions containers. Future mine countermeasures systems are also likely to have some element of containerisation.

You name it, there is an ISO based system.

In addition to these combat support and combat service support applications a number of manufacturers have seized on the ubiquity of the ISO container as a means of disguising combat equipment such as anti ship missiles, the infamous Club K for example.

And who could forget?

Camp Bastion Pizza Hut ISO Container
Camp Bastion Pizza Hut ISO Container

Flatracks

Flatracks might not be as Gucci as the more complex ISO container based systems above but they are equally flexible and valuable. They form the basis of the DROPS ammunition supply system described in the previous post on pallets and are used extensively to move pallets en masse.

Flatracks are defined by STANAg 2413 – Demountable Load Carrying Platforms (dlcp/flatracks)

DROPS 08  - Image Plain Military
DROPS – Image Plain Military
Medium Girder Bridge (MGB) in Pallet on a Foden DROPS (Image Credit - Plain Military)
Medium Girder Bridge (MGB) in Pallet on a Foden DROPS (Image Credit – Plain Military)

MAN SV EPLS

DROPS Flatrack outside Basra with 3RHA and an AS90
DROPS Rack outside Basra with 3RHA and an AS90
Warrior power pack Flatrack
Warrior power pack Flatrack

DROPS style hooklift racks cannot be stored or handled like ISO containers, they of course lack the corner posts and twistlocks. Conventional ISO flatracks are available and in widespread use, although less so in a military context. They are often used for transporting vehicles and outsize loads and can have fixed, folding or no ends.

ISO Flatracks Stacked
ISO Flatracks Stacked
40ft ISO Flatrack Folding Ends
20ft ISO Flatrack Folding Ends

Domino Flatracks (now a subsidiary of China International Marine Containers (CIMC)) produced the original ISO flatrack including this special design for the CVR(T) range of vehicles.

Domino ISO Flat Rack and CVR(T)
Domino Flat Rack and CVR(T)

 

 

The rest of the series…

Part 1 – Introduction and General Principles

Part 2 – Pallets

Part 3 – Containers and Flatracks

Part 4 – Container and Flatrack Handling

Part 5 – Boxes

Part 6 – Air Transport Pallets and Containers

Part 7 – Air Despatch

Part 8 – Issues and Solutions for Pallets, Containers and Boxes

Part 9 – Trucks and Trailers

Part 10 – More Thoughts  on Trucks and Trailers

 

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tweckyspat

Great article. Sad to see no more containerised deployable laundry facility (one of my proudest moments to have under command on ops !) and of course the field bakery. Still (obvs) used by the french http://www.army-technology.com/contractors/field/acmh/

Obsvr

Of course a number of the specially fitted containers were previously provided by box-body trucks, containers give far greater flexibility and probably require fewer trucks overall.

defac tourist
defac tourist

that bloody pizza hut iso !
only thing I ate in theatre that gave me the shits

blue px pizza was much better sustenance for the deployed civvie

paul g

At 7 A A Bn in wattisham we had a 45ft ISO converted for the composite repair section so they could repair composite blades in the field. Obviously we didn’t have a trailer for I,t so every time we went on exercise the unit had to hire a civvy artic combination. Bit of a headache when route planning and also when siting as civvy artics aren’t built to park in the woods!!! (low trailer clearance was a bit of a giggle as well)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

I was confused by a small side story in the bigger picture:

If you have 14 containers in all for the SEAFOX, but only two of them are for munitions handling, does this mean that
– you can only deploy a full system on two vessels at a time, or
– is the munitions handling a mother vessel/ base function and a much bigger number can come back to mother ship/ base, to have the day’s work’s worth preloaded, or even a week’s worth… depends on what you encounter?

Anixtu
Anixtu

MCMVs carry Seafox and all necessary ancillaries without any ISO containers. Some of the Seafox containers are carried on the MCMV support ship, not sure about the others but ashore seems likely.

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Rocco
Rocco

I like the container-based data centre. A couple were put in to Christchurch after the earthquake

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