Ship safety is improving, with total loss incidents in a slow but steady decline between 2015 and 2019, according to the inaugural State of Maritime Safety report published by IHS Markit. However, attention must remain on investment in safety amid global market volatility, the report argues.
IHS Markit have officially launched this year’s edition, the State of Maritime Safety 2020 report, which is currently available.
The annual State of Maritime Safety report, sponsored by classification society DNV GL, provides IHS Markit data-led insights and analysis of vessel casualties and total losses, crew fatalities, inspection and detention regimes, and expert maritime industry opinion.
The free report shows that total loss incidents have fallen downwards between 2015 and 2019, accounting for just 0.09% of the world fleet vessel count in 2019, when compared with 0.16% in 2015.
Despite media coverage suggesting there has been a stark rise in the number of total losses due to fire/explosion, IHS Markit Maritime & Trade data shows that the number of losses have remained largely consistent, with a mean average of 30.2 vessels a year.
However, the size of vessels lost to fires and explosions is slowly growing: 196,836 gt in 2019, compared with 156,287 gt in 2015. The uptick of incidents involving larger vessels does raise concerns over the effectiveness of fire-detection and prevention systems available on board.
The report also finds that total losses between 2015 and 2019 have largely occurred after vessels foundered [ships that sank as a result of heavy weather, springing of leaks, or breaking in two], or were wrecked or stranded. Of the former, 301 vessels were recorded, while the latter registered 177 wrecked or stranded ships. The rise in extreme weather events and low investment in repair and upkeep of machinery and hull damage (the top cause of ship accidents), following the 2008 and 2016 economic downturns, are allowing preventable incidents to turn into tragedies, according to the report.
Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of the State of Maritime Safety report’s sponsor, classification society DNV GL, said that shipping must continue to work on and invest in improving safety, even in the toughest of times.
“In times of crisis, it’s important to focus on the basics. For DNV GL as a classification society – this will always be safety. The IHS Markit report shows that shipping is continuing to make progress, slowly but surely reducing the numbers of cases. However, new technologies, operational methods, and risks will require us to keep our focus if we want to continue building on these positive trends. Because safety is at the core of the maritime industry, it is the promise we make to the world, to bring people and goods together – and to do it safely.”
The State of Maritime Safety report also highlights the number of crew members who have lost their lives in shipping incidents within these past five years. Last year alone, 165 seafarers were recorded as killed while 125 were listed as missing.
“It is important that with this report we showed the human lives behind the statistics,” said senior editor Tanya Blake. “When accidents occur, it is not just seafarers that are impacted, but the lives of their families and loved ones too. This alone gives us a moral obligation to continue to raise standards in maritime and ensure the least lives possible are lost.”
Brought to you by the team behind Safety at Sea magazine, the world’s only dedicated monthly maritime safety magazine, the report offers insight into contemporary risks and concerns and highlights problem areas that need more attention and safety solutions from the maritime industry.