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Human error remains a leading cause of ship accidents, with $1.6bn in losses due to mistakes and negligence over the past five years - and economic challenges are an increasing concern reports global insurance company Allianz in its annual review of maritime casualties.

 

Allianz reports 85 large ships were lost worldwide in 2016, down 16% compared with 2015 and the lowest number in a decade. “Crew negligence and inadequate vessel maintenance are two potential areas of increasing risk, particularly if ship-owners opt to recruit crew with less experience and training, or choose to stretch maintenance work to the longest possible intervals in order to save money,” reported Duncan Southcott, Allianz's head of marine claims.

A highlight of the report is the great strides the crude tanker industry has made in recent years thanks to self-regulation and high safety standards. There have only been 15 tanker total losses over the past 10 years, and none at all for the past two years. "Coastal passenger, cargo and fishing vessels could learn from its safety culture, benefiting from a more proactive approach to investment in safety management systems, training and spare parts," reported Allianz.

Overall casualties, including machinery and engine damage, were down 4% on 2015. “While the long-term downward loss trend is encouraging, there can be no room for complacency,” said Baptiste Ossena, Allianz's head of hull and marine liabilities. “The shipping sector is being buffeted by a number of interconnected risks at a time of inherent economic challenges.”

Allianz spotlighted risks stemming from the combination of human error and cyber security threats. An estimated 80% of cyber security breaches in the offshore sector stem from employees' mistakes, making crew training an essential component of any plan to combat hacking. Though training and maintenance budgets are under pressure, cyber security should not be neglected warned Allianz.

Cargo vessels accounted for about a third of the losses last year, followed by fishing vessels, passenger vessels, ro/ros, tugs and product tankers. Foundering was the leading cause of loss, and foul weather was a predictable complicating factor. Fire and explosion losses were up slightly y-o-y.

In terms of tonnage, the largest loss of the year was Moschato, Athens-based New Shipping's 1997-built,161,120dwt bulker, New Mykonos, which went aground January 29, 2016 south of Madagascar. She ultimately broke up and sank, spilling part of her cargo of coal.

Geographically, Southeast Asia was the region of most casualties, with 23, followed by the Mediterranean. The East Mediterranean maintained its 'dubious lead for total casualties of all kinds, including machinery damage.

Filed: 2017-06-14