Can Shipping Containers Be Buried?

Can Shipping Containers Be Buried?
Can Shipping Containers Be Buried?

It is essential to know that it is not a safe thing to bury shipping containers. At any depth under the ground, it is considered pretty hazardous. During times of emergency, most people consider this idea of digging a hole in the ground, lowering a shipping container, and getting shelter inside it.

This is more troublesome than the actual case of an emergency. However, there are ways a shipping container can be safely buried under the ground.

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Can Shipping Containers Be Buried?

Shipping containers are specially designed to carry their strength in corners and rails. This is why it can be stacked very high in container vessels and depots. The container sides are tough Corten steel, which is not vulnerable to rain, strong wind, and other elements. There is no framing other than rails, which creates 40’ and 20’ sides for excessive weight. 

How to Dig a Shipping Container Under the Ground?
How to Dig a Shipping Container Under the Ground?

Gabion cages are the safest option to use to bury shipping containers. The cages enable a firm barrier between the sides and the backfill of the container. Its designation helps to carry excessive weight.

Barrels Filled With Stone

It is similar to gabion cages, except these are filled with rocks. These are the barrels filled with rock or stones. Big blue barrels and stones are very easy to find, and it is also very easy to serve as well.

Bury these containers in a wide and huge enough hole in the ground to properly fit them along with a line of blue barrels on each side. After doing this, slowly backfill it. 

Welded Steel Angle Irons 

There is minimal formation available regarding the idea of burying these. These kinds of containers have no framing on the inside of them, and hence it required to be built. Now, you have weld (2 feet or greater) angle irons on the outside of your container, spot welding it.

The welding to the container should be there every couple of feet. After completing this, you can weld a few more pieces of angled iron to every side of your container, as this helps you get the extra strength in the outside of the containers. As there is very little information about this, we will never recommend you do it.

Why is It Not a Very Safe Idea to Bury Shipping Containers Under the Ground? 

There are ways to do it safely but still, one has to know the dangers that come their way when they bury them underground. First, if you look at the shape of a shipping container closely enough.

you will find out that they are not appropriate for survival bunkers and hence they are not going to be fit to be dug under the ground. You have an idea that shipping containers are extremely strong, and they are, but under favorable conditions only. 

The design (accordion) of these shipping containers makes them tough if the entire weight of it is only going downwards, that is, towards the opening of the container (for example, when they are used for transporting cargo). Applying force at the wrong angles of these containers while digging it hampers its sturdiness to a great extent.

What Happens When We Bury Any Shipping Containers? 

What Happens When We Bury Any Shipping Containers
What Happens When We Bury Any Shipping Containers? 

Considering the design of the shipping container, it is very probable to get crushed when being buried. But anyway, if you take the required preparations and precautions before burying the shipping container, you might be able to do it. Any common shipping containers will go deep up to just 18 to 20 inches of mud above it. 

The truth is 18 to 20 inches is not enough dirt above your shipping container. The base corners of shipping containers are very hardy and sturdy, but the true middle surface is not supposed to carry any form of heavyweight.

Think about a soft drink can. The sides are easily crushable, but the ends are quite strong. It is the same as the shipping containers, and the only difference is the size. 

What Should You Do When You Find Out an Aged Shipping Container?

If you are yet convinced that you will use shipping containers as your survival bunker, then there are certain tips and tricks that you can try. Those, if you follow, will prove to be a bit safer for your family and you.

But anyway, do not forget to remember that it is unsure in the first place, and it is a pretty dangerous idea to do it. So, before going for it, do not forget to take the necessary precautions. 

To start with, choose the hardest shipping container you can find. The newer it will be, the better. Shipping containers go to and fro on carrier ships on cargo from time to time.

This will make them weary and vulnerable to damage easily. It becomes prone to holes, too, after a long usage time. Holes in a shipping container are the most dangerous thing in the future. 

Reinforcing A Shipping Container/ The Better Ways to Use It 

Reinforcing a container starts with supporting the roof first. Welding of durable bars made of steel on the roof to make it protective and strong. After the welding process is done, cover it with pure cement.

This will enhance the structural strength of your shipping container to a higher degree. This will also bar the dirt that comes in from the roof of the shipping container. 

There is one more good tip that we would like to share. You can start the process of burying your shipping container downwards. It may seem very weird to you but let us explain. This is because, in most of the shipping containers, you will probably notice that the base is much thicker compared to the top of the roof.

This will help you to cope with some extra weight. Do not forget to weld and reinforce your roof even when burying the container upside down. After all, the additional protection always comes in handy. 

While choosing the best shipping container but underground burying, make sure it is EMP proof. This is the most important part of the whole process. You can check this by entirely burying the container.

And after that, place the rugs or mats on the soil to reduce any likelihood of the valuable electronics inside being unrepairable damaged by an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) explosion. 


As we have already mentioned a few times when you bury any shipping containers underground, it is a dangerous act in the first place, and then, it is a tough job to do too. There are some ways to do it still and make it safer for your family and yourself.

Try to perform all the safety precautions and preparation required to do it. Burying the shipping containers as a survival bunker is not as easy as you may think in the first place. And also, there is very little information available on the internet regarding this topic. We tried to make you know the finest ways to do it a bit anyway.

The structure and the design of shipping containers make it most difficult for burying in the ground. As we mentioned, the top and bottom parts are very strong, but the middle parts of these shipping containers are not that tough. 

However, if you have made up your mind to go for it, perform the safety measures, the welding purposes, and the reinforcements with the best quality steel. Even after a good reinforcement session on the roof, it is possible that the roof can yet be damaged for various reasons while soil shifting is the main out of them.

We wish you the best safety possible and I hope I have been able to provide all the information regarding “Can Shipping Containers Be Buried?” if you have any confusion let me know in the comment box.

Avatar for Jaren Helms

Jaren worked for over a decade in the industry as a Package Handler. He started his career with FedEx but he later also worked with companies like USPS and Deutsche Post.

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