Large shipping losses are at a record low having fallen by over 20% year-on-year and almost 70% over a decade, according to marine insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE’s (AGCS) Safety & Shipping Review 2020. In 2019, 41 total losses of vessels were reported around the world, down from 53 12 months earlier. This represents an approximate 70% decline over 10 years and is a result of sustained efforts in the areas of regulation, training and technological advancement, among others. This is a result of sustained efforts in the areas of regulation, training and technological advancement, among others.
According to the report, the South China, Indochina, Indonesia and Philippines maritime region remains the top loss location with 12 vessels in 2019 and 228 vessels over the past decade – one in four of all losses. High levels of trade, busy shipping lanes, older fleets, typhoon exposure, and safety issues on some domestic ferry routes are contributing factors. However, in 2019, losses declined for the second successive year. The Gulf of Mexico (4) and the West African Coast (3) rank second and third.
Cargo ships (15) accounted for more than a third of vessels lost in the past year, while foundered (sunk/submerged) was the main cause of all total losses, accounting for three in four (31). Bad weather accounted for one in five losses.
The number of reported shipping incidents (2,815) increased by 5% year-on-year, driven by machinery damage, which caused over one in three incidents (1,044). “We cannot lose sight of the fact that, while total losses have reduced significantly, the total number of incidents increased year-on-year,” says Ossena. “It does not take much for a serious incident to result in a total loss and, hence, the warning signs are there.” A rise in incidents in the waters of the British Isles, North Sea, English Channel and Bay of Biscay (605), meant it replaced the East Mediterranean as the top hotspot for the first time since 2011, accounting for one in five incidents worldwide. There were almost 200 reported fires on vessels over the past year, up 13%, with five total losses in 2019 alone. Mis-declared cargo is a major cause. Taking steps to address this issue is vital as it will only worsen as vessels become bigger and the range of goods transported grows. Chemicals and batteries are increasingly shipped in containers and pose a serious fire risk if they are mis-declared or wrongly stowed.
Issues with car carriers and roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) vessels remain among the biggest safety issues. Total losses involving ro-ros are up year-on-year. “The rise in number and severity of claims on ro-ro vessels is concerning. Ro-ros can be more exposed to fire and stability issues than other vessels,” says Khanna. “Many have quick turnarounds in port and a number of accident investigations have revealed that pre-sail away stability checks were either not carried out as required or were based on inaccurate cargo information. Too many times commercial considerations have endangered vessels and crews and it is vital that this is addressed on shore and on board.”