The global market for large cargo transports by sea is a lucrative business, considering the amount of containers and raw materials handled each year.
Internationally, around 90% of all cargo has seen its fair share of shipping lanes, whether transported on seas, oceans or rivers, with more than 50,000 merchant ships, bulk carriers, tankers and container ships active today, according to recent data. Each one of these vehicles is able to carry a couple of thousand TEUs at best, with some of the largest exceeding 20,000 units per transport.
However, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty’s (AGCS) believes the industry is still struggling. Its recent report on the shipping industry highlights the dangers facing cargo ships today. An estimated 94 ships (54 of which were destined for cargo transport) have been lost worldwide in 2017, due to various types of computer or human errors, rough weather and other hazards. In fact, one out of every four accidents has been attributed to bad weather, with various human mistakes taking a significant portion (around 75 to 96% of all accidents). Oddly enough, Friday has been the worst day of the week for accidents, with around 175 losses of 1,129 total reported having occurred on this day, in the past ten years.
On the upside, large shipping losses have declined by 38% over the past decade and down 4% in 2017, compared to 2016’s numbers (98 losses).
This being said, the situation worldwide is getting better, according to the Global Product Leader of Hull & Marine Liabilities at AGCS, Baptiste Ossena: ‘The decline in frequency and severity of total losses over the past year continues the positive trend of the past decade. Insurance claims have been relatively benign, reflecting improved ship design and the positive effects of risk management policy and safety regulation over time’.
The worldwide use of technologies is fueling the need for improved safety and efficient operations. One way to go is to use drones for everyday operations. In fact, the industry could use drones to examine ships and their cargo, to evaluate their environmental impact.
‘As the use of new technologies on board vessels grows, we expect to see changes in the maritime loss environment in future. The number of more technical claims will grow – such as cyber incidents or technological defects – in addition to traditional losses, such as collisions or groundings’, believes Baptiste Ossena.
Drones will be able to carry out repairs that would otherwise be dangerous for human workers, operating in toxic environments, even spotting dangers out at sea, according to an expert opinion.
Using advanced tech, shipping company experts are able to analyze crash-data and near-misses and establish patterns, in order to prevent future accidents and better train human operators.