Letter Re: CONEX Containers

Saturday, Oct 29, 2005

Jim,
I’ve recently been shopping around for used sea containers [Continental Express or "CONEX" transoceanic shipping containers], primarily to replace the weathered sheds that came with our property. While I haven’t sold my wife on the idea yet, we have been looking at metal sheds, which are more expensive and much less durable. You can purchase sea containers for a fairly reasonable price (approximately $1500 for a 20’ unit). Naturally, I started thinking about other possible uses for them (shelter, fallout shelter, etc.), and wanted to see if you, or any other bloggers, had any experience with using them in the survival context. They’re weather tight, can be purchased insulated, and are steel. Seems like there must be some pretty interesting possibilities there. - P.H.

JWR Replies:  I agree that despite the recent price increases, CONEXes are still a bargain. Many thousands of U.S. soldiers and Marines are billeted in converted CONEXes in Iraq.  These are called Containerized Housing Units (CHUs).  This consists of CONEX retrofitted with a door, window, top vent, power cabling, and an air conditioning unit.  These are pretty Spartan accommodations, but it sure beats living in a tent.

Just keep in mind that if you use a CONEX for above ground storage then a "spinner" vent should definitely be added to the roof . Why?  Because CONEXes tend to sweat inside.  (For the same reason, do not stack cardboard boxes directly against the interior walls.)

Don't count on a CONEX being truly secure storage if your retreat property is not continuously occupied. Welding on a shroud to protect a padlock from attack by bolt cutters is a good idea. But given enough time, a determined thief will just come back with a cutting torch.

Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers will have some detailed suggestions for the various uses of CONEXes, or if any of you are deployed troops that are billeted in a CHU, please e-mail me with your comments!


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