Dear COA Member

On behalf of the COA Board of Directors, I would like to extend my very best wishes to all COA Members for the coming year. We hope that you have a Safe and Successful 2021.

Since Paul Johnescu and I took up our positions of Chairman and Vice-Chairman 12 months ago, the world has, of course, changed in ways that no-one predicted. Although vaccination programmes are being introduced in many countries to fight COVID-19, there is still much uncertainty for the year ahead – and it is impossible to say when life will return to “normal”.

With many travel restrictions in place throughout the globe, it is highly unlikely that we – as an Association – will be able to meet “in person” for some months to come.

Nevertheless, in 2021, the COA will continue to make efforts to serve our Members.

The  COA Board of Directors meet (on-line) – and, at the December Meeting, we discussed future plans for the Association. All of the Board Members agreed the importance of the COA continuing to provide the full range of Technical Information, Reports and Bulletins, as well as organising regular Webinars on subjects that are relevant to our Members.

Please let me take this opportunity of highlighting the Projects and Webinars that we will be working on in the coming months:

COA Technical Projects

1. Reefer Telematics UDM

One of the COA’s important projects now is the development of a Universal Data Model (UDM) for reefer data communication. The project involves the development of a single, global definition of data related to reefer containers and reefer remote monitoring.

The benefit for the shipping industry will be a standard for reefer data exchange formats, thereby removing barriers and making it easier for data “consumers” to build value added services for reefer container operations, helping ensure cold chain control and food safety.

As reported regularly last year in COA newsletters, the Reefer Telematics Work Group has made considerable progress during 2020 and I am pleased to report that the UDM first project is nearly complete. It has also been agreed to co-operate with the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) for its implementation.

The next stage of the project will be to undertake a process of industry consultation, commencing this month. A Webinar will be arranged to present the project to COA Members and other stakeholders, and to request industry feedback.

2. Coatings WG Webinar/Reefer Coatings project

The Recent COA Eco-Friendly Coatings Webinar was well-attended with proactive discussion about the implications of the planned changes to coatings applied to Reefer Containers. The Board has identified the role of the COA to inform COA Membership about the planned changes, to get Members feedback and to gather information of proposed alternatives.

We will therefore be preparing an Information Document for Members, and subsequently organising a Webinar on the subject – inviting relevant organisations and stakeholders to participate.

3. Flexitanks

Development of the COA Quality Compliance (CQC) scheme continues. The CQC requires independent audits of each of the 5 facets of the manufacturing process. I am pleased to report that 32 flexitanks members have completed CQC.

Flexitank design and use continues to advance and the COA is expanding the Code of Practice to incorporate environmental objectives and the technical issues culminating from increase in the use of larger 26,000 litre flexitanks.

4. Standard Repair Coding

At the COA Members Meeting in Hamburg in November 2019, a Work Group was established to develop a standardised format for the Coding Systems for Container Repair. The project has continued throughout 2020 and we plan to provide an update to Members in the coming months.

5. Container Racking/Stacking

COA members, following a COA survey, opposed the WSC/BIC proposal to IMO to increase the existing CSC allowable stacking at 1.8g from 192,000kg to 213,000kg. The debate continues, with the COA continuing to provide updates and consulting with members.

6. Pest Control

The COA has, for some years, been an expert representative in the (International Plant Protection Convention Sea Container Task Force (IPPC SCTF) initiative. The COA’s role and mission is to protect the interests of our Members, seeking to prevent unreasonable requirements for Carriers and Depots whilst at the same time recognising the importance of pest control. COA will continue seek feedback from members.

7. Cargo Integrity Group – update

The COA is one of five international freight transport and cargo handling organisations working together as the “Cargo Integrity Group”. During the past year, it has been collaborating on the publication of a ‘Quick Guide’ to the United Nations sponsored Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (the “CTU Code”), together with a Checklist of actions and responsibilities for the guidance of those undertaking the packing of cargoes in freight containers specifically.

During the coming year, the CIG will continue to co-operate on a range of activities to further the adoption and implementation of crucial safety practices throughout the global supply chain. Members will be kept updated with future initiatives.

8. Steel Coil and High Density Cargo in Containers with Alternative Floors

The COA Board is now considering the development Guidelines for the Carriage of Steel Coil and High Density Cargo in containers with alternative floors, such as steel floors –  since these containers might require different lashing and bracing methods, compared to containers with wooden floors.

9. Telematic device fixings

The rapid growth of the use of telematics requires containers to be designed to facilitate the fitting of the device. This requires sufficient space within door corrugations which are not currently uniformly designed. The COA proposes to engage with members to agree on a protocol.


Webinars have enabled the COA to keep communication and engagement with Membership and several subjects are currently being considered by the Board:

– Flexitanks
– Reefer Telematics Launch
– Reefer Coatings (subject to feedback from Members)
– Pest control
– Stacking/Racking
– General Shipping Industry Presentation (Drewry)
– Status of Container Manufacturing Industry

The Board welcomes feedback on these Webinar subjects and encourages proposals from Members for other topics. Please send to:

COA Board Members

As announced to Members last month, the Directors were delighted to welcome Mr. Nigel Stribley, Director, Blue Sky Intermodal, on to the Board.  The Board now comprises the following Directors:

  • Chairman: Uffe Ernst-Frederiksen, Maersk Line
  • Vice-Chairman: Paul Johnescu, Matson Line Board Members
  • Philippe Berard, CMA CGM
  • Brian Darnowski, Triton International
  • Paul Merritt, Seaco Global
  • Frank Nachbar, Hapag Lloyd
  • Nigel Stribley, Blue Sky Intermodal

Looking forward to a busy year

Despite the challenges caused by the pandemic that we all face in our business and personal lives, the COA will endeavour to continue providing a valuable service to our Members.

So please let me take this opportunity – on behalf of my colleagues on the COA Board – to thank you for your continuing support of the Association.  Your commitment and contributions are very much appreciated, and we welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions over the coming months.

Kind regards

Uffe Ernst-Frederiksen
Chairman – Container Owners Association