Can You Turn A Shipping Container into an Underground Bunker?

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It depends on if you are looking for a short-term solution to shelter needs from natural disasters, it can work.

However, it may not work in the long term as it does not possess the structural integrity to handle prolonged compression from the soil.

Here is a quick guideline for modifying the shipping container into an underground banker.

What Makes the Underground Container Poor Choice for Long-term Bunkers

Here are some issues that make containers poor materials for long-term bankers.


The interior and exteriors of the containers are painted to prevent them from rusting.

Unfortunately, the paint is toxic is exposed to humid conditions underground. You need to insulate the container for safety.


While the shipping container is pretty sturdy, it was not meant to handle compression weight from the soil.

With time, it may start to cave in on the roof and the sides. You need to reinforce the structure on the inside and outside before burying it.


Most of the containers have a wooden floor laid on the metal sheet. Wood is not the best material for a bunker as it can be easily damaged by humidity.

Treated wood is unsafe due to the toxins produced by chemicals used in the treatment.

How to Use a Shipping Container as a Bunker

1. Prepare the Materials to Use for Reinforcement

Some of the materials that you can use to reinforce the counter include thick mats and rags, strong steel bars, copper braising, welding material, strong steel bars, and copper mesh.

2. Bury Your Container Upside Down

Under normal circumstances, the floor of the container is thicker than the roof.

When burying the shipping container, you want to use the side that can handle more weight on the top.

This reduces warping when you put heavy soil on the top.  You will steel reinforce the roof even after burying the container upside down, but it will be quite strong.

3. Reinforce the Roof and Sides

You will now use the strong steel bars indicated above to reinforce the roof.

Weld one steel rod across the center of the top and others cross the width to create square boxes.

Reinforce the sides by welding bars that touch the roof and floor to deal with compression forces.

You may consider the help of a structural engineer when strengthening the structure.

4. Make the Container EMP Proof

In the case of warfare, one of the combatants may consider using an EMP weapon to knock out the enemy’s electronics.

You can protect your electronics by grounding the container firmly and using rags and mats as insulators on the floor.

Placing a copper mesh on the roof may enhance the grounding.

5. Furnish the Container

If you have the budget, you can furnish the container by installing wooden planks under the roof sides and the floor.

This makes the container more comfortable and enhances the insulation.

6. Install Air Conditioning

You need air to be pumped into your container, or there will not be enough air to sustain you for extended periods.

Install air conditioning with an NBC air filter to clean the air from any chemical or biological contaminants.

Otherwise, you would need a pipe that goes to the surface to deliver air.

You may install a metallic tube that extends several meters away from the buried container and is raised a few feet from the ground for added safety.

You will steel need a filter where the pipe connects to the bunker.


You can convert a shipping container into a buried banker if you can reinforce its structure and insulate it. Here are the steps to create a bunker out of a shipping container.

1.    Prepare the Materials to Use for Reinforcement

2.    Bury Your Container Upside

3.    Reinforce the Roof and Sides

4.    Make the Container EMP Proof by insulating it

5.    Furnish the Container

6.    Install Air Conditioning

After converting your shipping container into a bunker, you can now put items you need for survival, such as foods, water, and medical supplies.

Keep electronics away from the walls for added safety. Seal your bunker after that and only access it when you need.

This keeps everything in top form, ready for the hour of need.