21 Jul 2011
The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) have, separately, each published their review of maritime accidents in 2010.
They paint similar pictures of a continuing decrease in the frequency and severity of major accidents, but increasing numbers of accidents and injuries in some categories.
The MAIB reports no merchant vessel losses, and 12 fishing vessel losses in 2010. Sadly, 2010 saw eight fatalities in the merchant vessel category (five non-crew), five fatalities from fishing vessels and the loss of 18 lives in pleasure craft accidents. Comparison in the form of historical data (dating back to 1998 for the MAIB and 2007 for EMSA) provides a useful overview of long term trends, although allowance has to be made for economic cycles and, with the MAIB statistics, variations in the size of the UK flagged fleet.
Recommendations are the prime output of MAIB investigations, 37 being issued to 50 addressees in 2010, all of which have either been accepted or, accepted and yet to be implemented. Recommendations can range from minor practical or procedural changes, to the requirement for new legislation or changes in policy. As such, the outcome of recommendations often has to be viewed over a period of time beyond just the year under review.
EMSA reviews statistics from across the whole EU community, pointing out that there have been no accidents on the scale of the Estonia disaster for nearly 17 years, or major pollution incidents since the loss of the Prestige over eight years ago. They do, however, record an increase both in the number of ships involved in accidents, and number of lives lost. The lower number of potential pollution incidents could, they suggest, be due to shipping being more aware of being monitored ‘from above’ by the CleanSeaNet monitoring satellite system.
EMSA highlights the potential for the greater consequences of accidents as ships become increasingly larger (no better illustrated than the mega-container ships now being delivered). They also consider there are questions about the ability of current response systems to deal with the removal of such vessels from the site, and any consequential pollution.
By Peter Barker