Overall, 2017's maritime casualties were a total of 3,301, whereas in 2018 EMSA reported of a decrease in marine casualties, in comparison to the previous year.

The report is based on statistics on marine casualties and incidents that: involve ships flying a flag of one of the EU Member States; occur within EU Member States’ territorial sea and internal waters as defined in UNCLOS; or involve other substantial interests of the EU Member States.

Key numbers 

  • 23,073 total incidents and casualties;
  • 95 very serious casualties
  • 53 fatalities
  • 941 injured persons
  • 25 ships lost
  • 3515 ships involved
  • 188 investigations

Number of reported marine casualties and incidents

Accordingly, the total number of reported marine casualties and incidents is 23, 073. In the last 5 years, the average number of marine casualties or incidents recorded in EMCIP is 3,239.

Yet, the report informs that under-reporting of marine casualties and incidents continues, achieving an overall of 4,000 occurrences per year being a best estimate.

  • Very serious casualties:

The number of very serious casualties has been steady over the last five years. However, in relation to the average of the last 5 years an increase of 14.5% in 2018 was noted. Serious casualties increased by 2.5% in 2018.

Number of marine casualties and incidents per severity of the occurrence

In 2018, 3.0% of the reported marine casualties were very serious (95), 25.9% serious, 53.5% less serious and 17.6% were marine incidents.

  • Casualties by ships:

In the 23,073 marine casualties and incidents that happened from 2011 to 2018, the total number of ships involved was 25,614.

# General cargo ships were the main category involved in a marine casualty or incident (43.8%), followed by passenger ships (23.7%).

In 2018, the number of ships involved in a marine casualty or incident stabilised or slightly decreased in all ship categories, except other ships. The number of other ships involved increase almost 63.7% compared with 2017.

Distribution of ships involved by main category.

According to EMSA, the distribution of the occurrence severity for the ship is very similar for cargo ships, passenger ships and service ships.

The rate of less serious casualties for fishing vessels is significantly low, more than 10%  less, in comparison to other ship categories, indicating that under-reporting is usual in this category.

  • The youngest category of ships involved in marine casualties was cargo ships with 13.7 years average.
  • The oldest was ‘otherships’ with 30.1 years, as expected, considering that this category includes historical vessels.

Average age of ships involved by main category for 2011-2018

  • Marine casualties

#1 15, 612 occurrences were reported with a ship and 7,461 occurrences with person(s) were recorded.

#2 The ratio 2/3 to 1/3 between occurrences with ship(s) and occurrence with person(s) has remained stable from 2011 to 2018.

#3 In 2018 there was a slight decrease of the casualties or incidents with a ship.

#4 From 2011 to 2018, 2.3% of casualties with a ship were very serious, 21.9% serious, 55.8% less serious and 19.9% marine incidents.

#5 The navigational casualties represent more than (54.4%) of the casualty events, with collisions (26.2%), contacts (15.3%) and grounding/stranding (12.9%

Distribution of casualty events with a ship

  • Root causes of casualty/incident

The investigators looked for the root causes of the casualty, resulting to:

From a total of 4,104 accident events analysed during the investigations, 65.8% were attributed to a human actions’ category and 20% to system/ equipment failures.

In the meantime, Shipboard operations represented the main group with 65% of the total, with 2,003 related to the accident event “Human action”.

  • Fatalities

Over the 2011-2018 period, 426 accidents led to a total of 696 lives lost, with a very significant decrease since 2015 which was however somewhat reversed in 2018. .

With 566 fatalities, crew is the most affected category of persons.

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