MRE's - Meals ready to explode? : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

"Meals: Ready To Explode" A Whole New Slant On The Military "Hot Meal"

The U.S. Navy Fighting Barbecue Flames At Guam and [I suggest reading the story at the website, because the included pictures really help make the story.]

March 18 2001 A Tribute to The Humble MRE

Following about 150 years of lesser field culinary practices -- the U. S. Army "Field Ration C" was announced in 1939. It was subjected to stern field trials, from which emerged a range of criticisms such as : "the cans were too large & bulky; the meat lacked variety, was too rich, & contained too many beans"

Yet, there was agreement that the new "C Ration" was nutritionally adequate and was "one of the best field rations . . . ever issued to the Army." This was centainly a great adavance from previous times -- including such practices as sending seeds to some U.S. Cavalry units on the 1850's New Mexico frontier for growing their own food!

The "C Ration" continued to be be issued through all of America's military campaigns from 1940 (along with other special rations - see below) -- through the Korean War -- until the dawn of the Viet Nam experience in the 1960's

This "C Ration" had been a product from the laboratory of U.S. military culuinary sceince -- but overcome by technology in the passage of time.

By the early 1960's criticisms had begun to be received from troopers in Viet Nam -- there was a generation of American service personnel who followed "The Grateful Dead", & who simply demanded a better ration. The U.S. Army Quartermater Corps went to work.

NOTE: Our favorite 1970's "C Ration" goodie was that "Fruit Cake" type thing (per label) -- you couldn't eat it -- but the little brown can was a perfect traiing device -- it saw distinguished service as a practice "hand grenade" -- like that little can in the picture above. McD

Enter The MRE 1980

A "Wonderful" Box of Goodies

Including a Main Course, Fruit, Desert, Cigarettes, Toilet Paper & Condiments

The Modern MRE

The 1960's Brought Culinary Breakthrough -- The "Meal; Ready to Eat" The 1980's Brought Culinary Breakthrough -- The "Meal; Ready To Heat"

Flameless Ration Heaters (FRH) Fueled By A Magnesium-Iron Alloy From U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 15 May 2001:

"Situation: Flameless Ration Heaters (FRH) stowed onboard several Military Sealift Command (MSC) vessels have been identified as the source of elevated hydrogen gas (H2) concentrations in containers and cargo hold spaces. In most instances H2 gas elevations are barely detectable but in isolated cases the levels inside closed containers have entered the explosive range. One such container recently broke into flames on the pier after being opened and prepared for unloading."

This Is Intermodal Reefer Container # SCZU 866966 9

Upon Vessel Discharge At The U.S. Navy Supply Depot -- Guam

18 March 2001

Our Stoic Shipping Carton From The Previous Picture Is Laden Within This Stow

From U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 15 May 2001:

"Background: Subject units are water activated devices for warming military Meals, Ready-to Eat (MRE). FRHs contain magnesium-iron alloy (Mg-Fe) and other powdered ingredients in flat High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pouch. The exothermic chemical reaction which warms the meals, produces hydrogen gas as a by-product. The addition of water is ordinarily required to cause the reaction to proceed. However, atmospheric moisture may be capable of penetrating the HDPE, causing a low grade reaction and the evolution of H2 gas. The production of a flammable atmosphere is very slow but H2 concentrations may occur inside containers and in upper reaches of holds where pockets of gas may be held."

"FRH units are usually packed together with the MREs, inside the individual menu bags. On one ship, all FRHs were removed from the MREs and stowed in refrigerated containers on the open deck. While this method of stowage removed the H2 gas generating problem from the holds, it concentrated the production of gas within the on-deck containers and resulted in concentration levels in the flammable range. MSC and the U.S. Army are investigating impermeable foil over-wrapping methods and the use of non-hydrogen generating heaters but these solutions will not be fully implemented in the immediate future." From U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 15 May 2001:

"Recommendation: Ports loading or receiving shipments of MREs and FRHs should consider requiring the monitoring of containers and holds in which FRH are stowed prior to movement of the containers or any activities which could introduce an ignition source. COTPs should advise ship operators that have FRHs aboard their vessels of this potential condition and, recommend the operators have procedures and equipment necessary to monitor the temperature and atmospheric contents of containers holding FRHs. For additional information on FRHs is the Coast Guard Liaison to MSC -- CDR Paul Gugg at (202) 685-5726.-- mailto: Operational insights may also be obtained from MSO Guam which has been involved in the discovery & abatement of this problem on preposition vessels staged in its AOR."

The Load & Stowe Looked Good -- But What About That "Ocean Thing?"

It Had Already Made A Visit To Intermodal Reefer Container # SCZU 866966 9

This Was Not A Drill

GE-SEACO Intermodal Reefer Container # SCZU 866966 9 Bursts Into Flames Upon Discharge At Guam

Could The Vessel Have Encountered WATER somewhere Between Los Angeles & Guam?

The Mystery Deepens

Hottest Reefer Unit We've Seen! and

-- Rich Marsh (, July 07, 2001


Besides "Fruit Cake", remember those delicious cans of "White Bread" and "Diced Ham and Limas"? Ugh!!!

-- Jim Davis (, July 07, 2001.

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