Perils On Water: Common Maritime Accidents

The ocean is one of the most dangerous workplaces in the world. According to the 2017 annual report of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), there were 3,145 recorded incidents wherein 106 lives were lost and 957 left injured. Over 3,505 ships were involved in these casualties and 26 of them were not found.

Since 2014, the number of marine incidents has stabilised to 3,200 a year. There is also a significant rise in the number of human fatalities. It is, however, acknowledged by the agency that there have been issues in under-reporting.

If this doesn’t cement the fact that the ocean is a frightening place to work, what will? It is admirable that seafarers, despite the perils, brave and even make it into their everyday working environment.

Here are some of the work hazards seafarers may encounter on board every day:

Extreme Weather

Most of us retreat to the safety of our homes when there are typhoons while seafarers can only go to their room and brace for it. A disheartening example to this is the recent foundered ship, El Faro, considered to be the worst U.S. maritime disaster in decades.


Collision is when ships, in motion or moored, strike each other. EMSA said that half of the casualties since 2011 to 2016 were of navigational nature. Included in this is collision, where 38% of all fatalities mainly occur.


Mitigating fires on land is already difficult, what more if it is on water? For fires on land, it takes only minutes to put hoses in line that helps extinguish the blaze. According to Harry Worley, a battalion chief and public information officer for Norfolk Fire-Rescue, on water, the conditions are different. It may actually take an hour or more to prepare to fight the fire. As a matter of fact, a containership from a known company had difficulties putting out a fire on board. It shockingly lasted for a month, claiming 3 seafarer lives.

Loss of Control

One of the most noted mishaps ships get involved in is loss of control often due to machinery damage or failure. For cargo ships, this represents 25% of the events. Machinery damage or failure often result in the loss of ability to operate the ship. This incident may be because of trouble with the following:

  • Loss of electrical power is failure in the supply of electric power to the ship.

  • Loss of propulsion power and directional control happens when there is main engine failure which may result to blackouts, steerage difficulties, etc.

  • Loss of containment may either be a spillage, damage, or loss of goods and other substances on board of a ship.


Piracy has been at its peak in 2010 resulting in 445 recorded incidents. This posed a serious threat for all seafarers thus shipping companies started availing services from private maritime security industries. If they don’t, chances for pirates to hijack ships for ransom, hold seafarers hostage, steal fuel and cargo, etc. are high.

For the next years, however, a huge drop on its recorded incidents has been reported. Since 2012, the number of attacks decreased from 439 to 297. If compared today, global maritime piracy incidents has drastically. In fact, International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) quarterly account for 2017 states that there are 180 incidents.

Marine incidents are seldom controllable, more so when it involves Mother Nature. With all these incidents in mind, there is only one solution for shipping companies to avoid losses.

By availing a marine insurance in the Philippines’ leading non-life insurance company, you create a safety net for the billions of costs any of these incidents were to make. Malayan Marine Insurance provides the needed protection of all seafaring businesses with a comprehensive marine insurance.