The Seafarers International Research Centre has published the results of an analysis of maritime accident investigation reports for the period 2002-2016. Collision, close quarters and contact were the most common accidents, with inadequate lookout being the main cause. In general, ‘inadequate risk management’ was most commonly identified as an immediate and a contributory cause of accidents.
The most common kind of accident was ‘collision, close quarters and contact’ with 35.8%. This was followed by grounding, with 17% of the cases. Around 9.8% of the accidents has to with fire and explosion, 3.3% were related to lifeboats and 34.2% were described as other kinds of accidents. These events include for example, crane failure, man overboard, cargo loss, engine room flooding, trip and fall, parting of mooring lines, and oil spills.
Collision, close quarters and contact
The most common immediate cause of collision, close quarters and contact accidents was ‘inadequate lookout’, which was reported in 24.6% of cases.
‘Failure in communication’ was identified in 15.3% of cases, while ‘poor judgment’ with 14.1%, and ‘pilot error/mishandling’ with 12.9% also were immediate causes of collision, close quarters and contact accidents.
As for contributory causes, ‘ineffective use of technology’ was most commonly identified. This contributed in 24.2% of cases. Ineffective use of technology means that technology was not been used to its full potential. What is more, an additional category of ‘inappropriate use of technology’ was applied regarding the misuse of technology, as it comprised 6.9% of contributory causes. When combining ineffective and inappropriate use of technology were aggregated, the report says that technology was reported to have contributed to accidents in more than a third of the cases (31%).
Moreover, ‘failure in communication’ was also a major contributory cause, identified in 20.6% of cases. ‘Weather/other environmental factors’ (19.8%), ‘third party deficiency’ (14.1%), ‘inadequate lookout’ (12.5%), ‘inadequate risk management’ (11.7%) and ‘distraction’ (10.9%) were also contributory causes of collision, close quarters and contact accidents.
Regarding grounding incidents, ‘failure in communication/coordination’ was an immediate cause in 16.1% of cases. It was also a contributory cause in 24.6% of cases.
Other immediate causes of grounding were found to be:
- Inadequate lookout’ (11.9%);
- Poor judgment’ (11%);
- Fatigue’ (9.3%);
- Technical failure’ (8.5%).
Third party causes of grounding such as ‘pilot error/mishandling’ were reported in 6.8% of the accidents.
‘Ineffective use of technology’ (31.4%) and ‘inadequate risk management’ (28.8%) were most frequently identified as contributory causes in cases of grounding. Namely, ‘Inappropriate use of technology’ was a contributory cause in 7.6% of cases and ‘ineffective use of technology’ contributed to 31.4% of groundings, amounting to a total of 39% of cases in which technology contributed.
Inadequate risk management was also identified as a contributory cause and was found in 28.8% of cases.
Furthermore, ‘failure in communication’ (24.6%) and ‘third party deficiency’ (17.8%) were identified as contributory causes as well. Fatigue’ (12.7%), ‘weather/other environmental factors’ (12.7%) and ‘rule violation’ (12.7%) were among the contributory factors in grounding reports.
Fire and explosion
‘Inadequate risk management’ featured both as an immediate (27.3%) and contributory (43.9%) cause of fire/explosion. Other immediate causes like ‘third party deficiency’ (18.2%), ‘technical failure’ (18.2%), and ‘inappropriate/ineffective maintenance (16.7%) has also resulted in fire/explosion.
Considering contributory causes, ‘poor emergency response’ was identified in more than a quarter of cases (27.3%). ‘Third party deficiency’ (18.2%) and ‘inappropriate/ineffective maintenance’ (16.7%) were also important contributory causes of fires and explosions. What is more, ‘inadequate training/experience’ and ‘poor design’ were reported as immediate and contributory causes of fire and explosion incidents.
In these kinds of accidents, ‘inadequate risk management’ was frequently as an immediate and contributory cause (in 34.9 and 34.5% of cases, respectively).
Other immediate causes included ‘third party deficiency’ (12.2%) and ‘poor judgment’ (11.3%) alongside inappropriate/ineffective maintenance’, ‘poor design’ ‘technical failure’ and ‘weather/other environmental factors’.
Finally, third party deficiencies were a contributory cause in 17.6% of cases. Weather/other environmental factors (16%), inadequate training/experience (12.6%), poor judgment (10.1%), and inappropriate/ineffective maintenance (9.7%), were also identified as contributory causes of ‘other accidents’.
See more details in Seafarers International Research Centre’s report