IT WAS HEARTENING to read in a recent press release from the Allianz Global Corporate & Speciality SE’s (AGCS), in respect of its Safety & Shipping Review 2019, that, in 2018, shipping losses of vessels over 100 gross tons, were the lowest recorded this century, albeit with the caveat that incident numbers remain high.
The review states that worldwide, 46 ships were lost, down by a record 50% annually and 55% below the 10-year average of 104.
Total losses signifi cantly fell in accident hotspots such as South East Asia, and weather losses halved due to a more benign year during the hurricane and typhoon seasons. The report goes on to say that while this plummet in total losses is encouraging, the number of reported shipping incidents overall, (2,698 in 2018), shows little decline – less that 1% year-on-year. Machinery damage is the major cause, accounting for more than a third of the 26,000+ incidents over the past decade – twice as many as the next highest cause, collision.>
The South China, Indochina, Indonesia and Philippines maritime region remains the top loss location, with one in four losses (12) occurring here in 2018, although signifi cantly down from the 29 the previous year. The East Mediterranean and Black Sea (6) followed by the British Isles (4) rank second and third respectively. A third of the vessels lost were cargo ships, with the most common cause foundering (sinking). Fires continue to generate large losses on board with the number of reported incidents (174) trending upwards. This has continued through to date in 2019, with a number of recent problems on container ships and three signifi cant events on car carriers. Commenting on the report, Baptiste Ossena, Global Product Leader Hull & Machinery, AGCS, says, “Today’s record low total loss activity is certainly infl uenced by fortunate circumstances in 2018, but it also underlines the culmination of the long-term improvement of safety in the global shipping industry. Improved ship design, technology, tighter regulation and more robust safety management systems on vessels have also helped to prevent breakdowns and accidents from turning into major losses. However, the lack of an overall fall in shipping incidents, heightened political risks to vessel security, complying with 2020 emissions rules and the growing number of fi res on board bring challenges.”
What also has to be considered when analysing such incidents is the inevitable human cost in terms of serious injury and loss of life as well as the impact on the marine and respective coastal environment. The fi gures continue to confi rm that in striving to keep ships and seafarers safe, there is certainly no room for complacency.