DNV GL held a survey during this year to evaluate the safety awareness that exist among the Greek shipping community. DNV GL decided to conduct this survey as Greece is deemed to give a good perception of the safety level in shipping: the Greek maritime industry is considered as a representative for world average fleet; the survey includes the main shipping types; the response rate may be around 15% but still is a confident number and the replies were in their majority from the technical and HSQE departments. The graph below demonstrates the frequency of the serious accidents involved collisions, fire/explosion, hull/machinery damage, groundings over the last 20 years where we may see that there is no a significant improvement. This was one of the first reasons for DNV GL to conduct this survey.


Secondly, back in 2014, DNV GL had published a paper on the the future of shipping setting their vision for sustainable shipping for the future to 90% reduction in fatalities, 60% reduction in CO2 emissions while maintaining 0% increase in freight rates. Therefore, another reason for the survey was to have a temperature reading from the industry on the safety coultoure comparing to the image that DNV GL has and evaluate progress made so far to DNV GL’s ambitions. Safety is again on the spotlight since IMO put it ‘back’ on the agenda over recent years highlighting that ‘’ the future of ship safety would depend on: a more scientific approach; a systematic analysis of casualty data; new technology and innovation, and; a holistic approach to address both operations and dependence on technology, recognizing a ship as a man-machine system.”

The survey revealed the following six main findings:

1. Safety is a major concern

Although we do know that safety is being treated in a respectful way by the Greek shipping companies, we took this survey for confirmation. Specifically, safety is not only still high on the agenda, but even higher than we thought, as the 75% of the companies said that they are really concerned about their safety level. However, only 55% believe shipping is safe compared to land industry which reveals that there is need for more actions. The most important issue is that there is clear will and drive for improvement. Regarding, DNV GL vision, 57% think it is achievable a 90% reduction in fatalities but at the same time, only 32% think this could be achieved without affecting freight rate. This is actually the first barrier of our survey; it shows that although there is will for things to be done, the cost is always a considerable factor.

Another interesting finding was that the main concern for the industry around safety is not focused on technical skills but on human behavior. The top three choices were the following soft skills: inadequate safety management, poor safety culture/ communication and insufficient crew competence. This is a good outcome, because the above skills may be improved through training.  

2. Safety is a competitive differentiator

Safety performance is important also in a poor market; 90% believe that safety performance could be seen as a competitive advantage for companies. In addition, more than 90% think that every safety related regulation should be applied on a level playing field.

3. The crew is the key

‘Crew training’ was the number one option for improving safety, according to the survey results. Also, Greek shipping companies demonstrated the following ‘areas’ for more focus (word cloud analysis): crew, regulations, rules, lack    

4. Main barriers are commercial pressure and cost cutting

The survey revealed that the key stakeholders for driving safety at sea are owners and operators. Charterers, yards and suppliers are seen as contributing little to safety. It was really interesting to note that owners and operators chosen themselves in this question which shows that they are aware of their responsibility to enhance safety. Greek shipping industry is highly aware of the fact that safety lies in companies’ hands.

5. Invest in competence and training

In the question ‘if you had EUR 50,000 to spend in the industry, word cloud analysis revealed as most popular choices the following: safety, crew, training. Therefore, according to the survey, investing in safety training would be well spent money. However, the most important is not only to spend money but doing it properly. This is why responders agreed that if companies use a budget on an annual basis, they could be equipped with posters and helmets; if they use it on a quarterly basis, then they could achieve something more; but if they double it with the budget per seafarer, per contract, then they could achieve 80% of the safety improvement.

6. Class to take a more leading role

Many replies highlighted that more rules and regulations are required. In the question how class may contribute to safety at sea, again the three most frequent answers revealed that ‘soft skills’ is expected as well as competence enhancement through surveyor feedback while onboard, safety culture surveys on a more solid basis and safety awareness campaigns.

In conclusion, the safety survey clearly shows an industry which needs and wants to improve safety, however, is hampered by barriers. Based on the survey, we are in the correct direction for improvement but ship owners and operators say we can do much better!

Above text is an edited article of Jason Stefanatos presentation during the 2016 SAFETY4SEA Conference & Awards

You may view his video presentation by clicking here

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of  SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion  purposes only.


Jason Stefanatos, Senior Research Engineer, R&D and Advisory, Region East Med., Black & Caspian Seas, DNV GL – Maritime

stefanatos_Jason Stefanatos is a graduate of the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering of National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), where I also worked as a researcher in the Laboratory of Marine Engineering. He joined DNV GL in 2011, where mainly work on the computer modelling, simulation, and optimisation of ship machinery systems (part of the developing team of COSSMOS). His field of expertise includes performance assessment, design and operation optimisation, hybrid-electric propulsion systems, tankers offloading operations, energy efficiency, Cyber Security and Fleet Performance Management solutions.