Are Buried Shipping Containers a Good Idea for a Bunker? NO, and Here is Why!

shipping-container-bunker

It is almost impossible to visit a survival or preparation oriented website and not see either an article or advertisement for using shipping containers as underground bunkers.

They always look amazing – finished floors, a happy family inside, clean with more than ample supplies to last a veritable lifetime; some even have their own air circulation systems so you can control the climate.

That is great if you live in a fantasy where actual life rarely interrupts your fanciful bliss!

If, however, you reside on planet earth with the rest of us, you may want to view the articles and advertisements with a bit of skepticism.

The simplest reason is that shipping containers are simply not meant to have tons of dirt heaped on them and have pressure exerted on them from all sides.

But there are a few other reasons you may want to curb your enthusiasm and on the next page, we cover them.

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62 Comments

  1. Wayne Downey said:

    One must remember that this article was written by someone that has no clue what structural engineers are and also never met a construction contractor. I just happen to be both and I used three shipping containers to build my bug out bunker 6 years ago and after last months inspection it looks as good as the day I built it.

    “IF” you want to use a container, several thinks must take place to be safe and have them work to your advantage. Site prep means everything in a project such as this. The details are important but for the purpose of informing people, I will just gloss over a few things that make the most difference.

    First item in site prep is not just location, but the ability to camouflage and conceal. Yes, you want the bunker 100% under ground, with at least a 6 foot top layer when possible. That being said here comes the important stuff. You really need to keep the container from touching the earth elements. REALLY! You do! If you don’t, it will just speed up the rusting process and eventual failure. A concrete floor is a good start. Then block walls filled with cement is preferred. (This is to not only keep dirt from coming in direct contact, but also to eliminate side loading of the walls). So now is the time for the critical thinking part. How much room do I need between the block walls and the container? Think air filtration system, Electric source, water storage, other storage that may not need to be inside of the container. Once you have that in mind, put up the block walls and fill with cement to the top. Just the air space alone will help add a thermal layer of insulation for climate control.

    Before inserting the container, (This was my biggest impact on the whole system), Spray everything, block walls and container, with a truck bed liner. Rhino Liner is a great one. It will not only protect your container from the elements but will make everything bomb proof! Yes, it will actually be bomb proof. A test was done using 1 LB block of C-4 set 1 foot away from a hollow block wall. Of course it blew the wall to kingdom come. Same test but sprayed the wall with Rhino Liner. Not a scratch! So spray everything with it. It is well worth the cost!! Building a fiberglass entry seemed the best way for my situation to built the entry way. The elements will not be as effected as steal would be or wood for that matter.

    As I said, 6 years later and it looks a good as it did on day 1. Remember, when it comes to preparing for your future, never listen to someone that has no clue what they are talking about!!

  2. Michael Taylor said:

    Ohhh…. This whole article is a Ad for the contractor who builds bunkers…… I

  3. Scott Brown said:

    If you’re going to encase it in concrete and blocks why bother with the container?

  4. Scott Brown said:

    If you’re going to encase it in concrete and blocks why bother with the container?

  5. Wayne Downey said:

    Several reasons. The container acts as a third layer of protection from intruders, it acts as your living quarters where the block and air space out side act as the insulating layers. Less cost of heat and air conditioning, less demand on your limited electrical system ! Less overall cost of construction. While adding the block is a cost factor, doubling it is even that much more. The containers are 1/8th the cost of the block and concrete. But then you would have already known this had you read what I posted!

  6. Keith Scottsman said:

    Except you don’t know much about thermodynamics. Airspace only acts as an insulator if the space is void of air. Air is an excellent conductor of heat and cold. To say the space is good for insulation is asinine. Additionally, you should apply some critical thinking skills to the article. It’s obvious this was geared for the$#%&!@*hats who buy a container and drop it in a hole, cover it up, and call it a day.

  7. Sam Register said:

    No they r not they were built to b put on ship’s & not opened until destination& usually a ship will lose 14-28 containers.in transit so they r not meant for survival bunkers

  8. Peter Wilhelm said:

    used to build both these and drill mud tankers good one are 1/4 inch mild steel so are drill mud tanks anyone with even farm hand welding skills would be able to reinforce one to do the job which you would have to do anyway i.e. water, sewage, air flow ,multiple ingress, egress, etc.

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