Shipping accidents: a serious threat for marine environment

Necmettin Akten

Istanbul University, Engineering Faculty, Department of Maritime Transport and Management Engineering, Istanbul, TURKEY


Shipping accident is a term generally used for any accident results in financial loss, either in life or property or both. The reasons for shipping accidents are many and complex. Bigger size brings corresponding increases in cargo and passenger capacity; hence when an accident occurs, the risk of life and property immediately becomes higher. Reduced ship maneuverability in connection with larger scale is another contributing factor in shipping accidents. Several crucial causes play a role in shipping accidents. Natural conditions, technical failures, route conditions, ship-related factors, human errors, cargo-related factors are the striking ones. Shipping accidents by types are quite many and their impacts on marine environment differ from one another. Collision or contact, capsize, foundering,breaking up, grounding, stranding, breakdown of the ship underway, and fire or explosion are examples of common shipping accidents. Groundings and shipboard fires are the dominant types of shipping accidents worldwide. Torrey Canyon disaster has been the cornerstone for the protection of marine environment. The first 20 major oil spills of all time reveal that nearly 2.4 million tonnes of oil entered the sea due to accidental and operational oil pollutions. Shipping is and always will be full of risks despite high and ever increasing safety standards. Nevertheless, improved standards for ships, seafarers and shipping management by way of internationally adopted measures have all made and will make a major impact on shipping safety for safer shipping and cleaner oceans.

Keywords: Shipping accident, collision, stranding, grounding, shipboard fires, human errors, darkness, clear weather, collision risks, SOLAS, marine environment, oil spill, MARPOL, Bosphorus

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