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Safety and Shipping Review: Report & Insights

Report | May 2023
About usCommercial’s annual Safety and Shipping Review identifies loss trends and highlights a number of risk challenges for the maritime sector.
On June 22, 2023, Ulrich Kadow, Global Head of Marine, Rahul Khanna, Global Head of Marine Risk Consulting, Régis Broudin, Global Head of Marine Claims and Justus Heinrich, Global Product Leader Marine Hull reviewed the trends and developments in shipping losses and safety in 2023.

Shipping transports between 80% to 90% of world trade onboard different vessels so maritime safety is critical. Improvements have been significant over the past decade in particular. Thirty years ago, the global fleet was losing 200+ vessels a year. At the end of 2022 fewer than 40 losses were reported. It has now been six years since a triple‑digit total loss year.

The review shows 38 total losses of vessels (over 100 gross tonnage [GT]) during 2022, compared with 59 a year earlier, down by 36%. Annual shipping losses have declined by 65% over the past decade (109 total losses in 2013) reflecting the positive effect of an increased focus on safety measures over time, such as regulation, improved ship design and technology and risk management advances.

South China, Indochina, Indonesia and the Philippines is the global loss hotspot, both over the past year and decade (204 total losses). It accounted for one in four losses in 2022 (10), driven by factors such as high levels of trade, congested ports, older fleets and extreme weather. The Arabian Gulf, British Isles, and West Mediterranean waters were the second top loss locations (3). The past 10 years have seen 807 total losses reported. Three regions, South China, Indochina, Indonesia and the Philippines, East Mediterranean and Black Sea (118), and Japan, Korea and North China (76) account for almost 50% of global loss activity over this time.

Around a quarter of vessels lost in 2022 were cargo (10). Together, fishing (6) and passenger (5) vessels also accounted for a quarter of the total. Foundered (sunk/submerged) was the main cause of total loss across all vessel types (20), accounting for over 50%. Contributing factors included bad weather, poor visibility, flooding and machinery breakdown. Fire/explosion ranked as the second top cause of loss (8). Vessel collision ranked third (4).

Extreme weather was reported as a factor in at least 8 losses during 2022, while January was the most frequent month for losses with 6.

While total losses declined over the past year, the number of shipping casualties or incidents reported remained consistent (3,032 compared to 3,000 a year earlier). The British Isles saw the highest number of incidents (679) while machinery damage/failure accounted for close to half of all incidents globally (1,478). There were over 200 fires reported during 2022 (209) – the highest for a decade, making this the third top cause of incidents with activity up 17% year‑on‑year.

The East Mediterranean and Black Sea region has seen the most shipping incidents over the past decade (4,969). Globally, most of the 27,477 incidents reported over the past decade have been caused by machinery damage/failure (10,753), followed by collision (3,098) and wrecked/stranded (2,936).

Ship incidents at a glance
807
total losses in 10 years
38
total losses in 2022
65%
decline over a decade
10
cargo ships lost in 2022 –
a 1/4 of all vessels lost
3,032
shipping incidents reported in 2022 – 
Machinery damage is the top cause
8
minimum number of total losses in 2022 where extreme weather was reported as being a factor
January
the most frequent month for total losses in 2022 (6)
64
total losses caused by fire in the past five years
Fire is the most expensive
cause of marine insurance claims
Vessels over 100GT only
Improvements in maritime safety have been significant over the past 10 years in particular. During the 1990s the global fleet was losing 200+ vessels a year. This total plummeted to fewer than 40 by the end of 2022. It has now been six years since a triple-digit loss year.
Source: Lloyd’s List Intelligence Casualty Statistics.
Data Analysis & Graphic: About usCommercial.
Vessels over 100GT only
The database shows 38 total losses of vessels over 100GT at the end of 2022, compared with 59 a year earlier and 109 10 years previously. South China, Indochina, Indonesia and Philippines is the main loss hotspot, both over the past year and the past decade, accounting for one in four losses in 2022. The Arabian Gulf, British Isles and West Mediterranean waters jointly rank as the second top loss location. 
Source: Lloyd’s List Intelligence Casualty Statistics.
Data Analysis & Graphic: About usCommercial.
Vessels over 100GT only

The past 10 years have seen 807 reported total losses, with the 2022 loss year (38) representing a significant improvement on the annual loss average over this period (81). This is even more impressive given the fact that there are well over 100,000 ships in the global fleet (100GT+) compared with around 80,000 30 years ago.

Loss activity in the South China region is typically driven by a number of different factors including high levels of local and international trade, congested ports, older fleets and extreme weather. Together, the top three maritime regions account for almost 50% of loss activity over the past decade.

Source: Lloyd’s List Intelligence Casualty Statistics.
Data Analysis & Graphic: 91Ʋ Commercial.
Maritime safety on a global scale is influenced by a range of factors and challenges that impact ship operations, such as crew welfare, passenger safety, and protection of the environment. These include human error, adverse weather conditions, vessel design and maintenance, navigational hazards, regulatory compliance, piracy and security threats, technological complexities, environmental concerns, emergency response readiness, as well as the impact of global trade. Addressing these ڲٴǰrequires a holistic approach that combines international regulations, technological innovation, effective training, and collaborative efforts among industry stakeholders to ensure safe and secure maritime operations worldwide.
Regulatory frameworks and international conventions are essential in maintaining maritime safety standards. They establish uniform guidelines for vessel design, navigation, crew qualifications, safety equipment, pollution prevention, and more. Through international collaboration and enforcement, these frameworks ensure consistency, accountability, and compliance across the industry. They address emerging risks, promote environmental protection, mandate crew training, and establish liability mechanisms. By providing a structured approach and fostering global cooperation, these frameworks play a vital role in upholding maritime safety and preventing accidents.
Data analysis and predictive modelling can play a critical role in enhancing maritime safety by leveraging historical data and real-time information to identify potential risks and prevent accidents. These tools can analyze patterns, trends, and contributing factors from past incidents to forecast potential hazards and assess scenarios. They can enable early warning systems, proactive decision-making, and targeted interventions in high-risk areas. By providing insights into safety risks, data analysis and predictive modelling can contribute to the continuous improvement of safety protocols, crew training, and operational procedures in the maritime industry.

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  1. Fire, explosion (29%) - 2022 rank: 3 (25%)
  2. Changes in legislation and regulation (25%) - NEW
  3. Cyber incidents (25%) - 2022 rank: 4 (23%)