EMSA has published its Annual Overview of Marine Casualties and Incidents 2023, which presents statistics on marine casualties and incidents that cover the period from 1st of January 2014 to 31st of December 2022, reported by the EU Member States, reports Afloat.
According to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), 2022 has been a positive year considering the reduction or stabilisation of most of the accident indicators, such as the number of occurrences, ships lost, fatalities or injuries. In 2022, there were 2,510 marine casualties and incidents reported, a decrease of 182 from 2021 and 84 from 2020.
Incidents in numbers
The total number of marine casualties and incidents reported in the period from 2014 to 2022 was 23,814 with an annual average of 2,646. The number of casualties and incidents is 5.1% under the annual average and the average of 2,670 occurrences before the pandemic.
After a peak of 106 very serious casualties reported in 2018 and a total of 75 in 2019, the number of very serious marine casualties was 51 in 2020, 58 in 2021 and 44 in 2022, confirming the reduction in the trend.
The average ship occurrence indicator in the period from 2014 to 2022 was 115, with a maximum of 125 in 2019, a minimum of 101 in 2020 and 109 in 2022. Both passenger ships and cargo ships had the greater average ship occurrence indicators, 211 and 152 respectively.
Indicators in 2022 are stabilised in comparison with the previous year. Regarding service ships, this category had the lowest indicator, with an average of 44 over the period from 2014 to 2022. Finally, the occurrence indicator about fishing vessels was 51 with an increase over the period from 2014 to 2022.
Incidents per location
From 2014 to 2022, ‘internal waters (port area and other)’ were the locations where more than half of the reported marine casualties and incidents took place, followed by ‘Territorial Sea’ and ‘Open Sea’. Data for 2022 present the same trends as data for the whole period from 2014 to 2022.2
From 2014 to 2022, 45.3% of the marine casualties and incidents took place while in the port area, i.e., in departure, arrival and anchored or alongside, whereas the ‘En route (mid-water or transit)’ segment accounted for 44.0%. Finally, 10.7% of the marine casualties and incidents happened in ‘Unknown’ voyage segments3.
EU waters in the North Atlantic, with an average of 22.4% of the marine casualties and incidents, and EU waters in the Mediterranean Sea, with an average of 18.0% of the marine casualties and incidents, were the geographical areas with the higher number of occurrences, except passenger ships where the greater number of occurrences in EU waters happened in the Mediterranean and Baltic Sea.
From 2014 to 2022, there was a total of 6,781 injuries in 5,941 marine casualties and incidents, the average of injuries in that period was 753 injuries per year. There were 597 injuries in 2022, the lowest number of injuries per year in all the period under consideration. In 2022, 83.8% of the injured were crew members and 84.4% of the injured were crew members in the period from 2014 to 2022.
The main events resulting in injuries in 2022 were ‘loss of control’ for occurrences with persons and ‘loss of control – loss of propulsion power’ for occurrences with ships. The main events resulting in injuries from 2014 to 2022 were ‘slipping/stumbling and fall’ for occurrences with persons and ‘collision’ for occurrences with ships.
Fatalities and injuries indicators based on the number of persons on board for each person category (crew member, passenger or other) in the EU fleet were calculated. The trends of these indicators for crew members and passengers show a decrease over the years, except for passengers, as in the total number of fatalities and injuries there was an increase in the number of injured passengers in 2022.
In 2022, 6 ships were lost, 524 ships were damaged, 180 ships were considered unfit to proceed, 603 required shore assistance, 330 ships required towing, 17 ships were abandoned and there were 296 Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. All these figures mean a significant reduction in the consequences to ships, in comparison with previous years.
Incidents of pollution
A significant decrease in the reported number of pollution has been observed since 2019. In 2022, the total pollution was reduced, with less pollution to the air and a significant decrease in pollution by cargo.
From the analysis conducted in safety investigations, it was determined that, from 2014 to 2022, 59.1% of accident events involved human action and 50.1% of the contributing factors were related to human behaviour.
Analysing both human action events and human behaviour contributing factors jointly, the human element relates to 80.7% of the investigated marine casualties and incidents. These trends are common for all ship types.
Over the period from 2014 to 2022, the total number of safety recommendations issued, and actions taken reported was 2,488. 45.4% of the issued safety recommendations and actions taken dealt with ship-related procedures.
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