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Casualty Numbers Drop

A t the half-year mark, merchant ship casualty experif l e n c e was showing a significant improvement com- • l pared to the same period in 1994, according to a recent report from the Institute of London Underwriters (ILU). Statistics compiled by the ILU, applying to ships of 500 gt and more, reveal that although the second quarter's experience was marginally worse than the first quarter, the overall decrease in accidents at sea continued. In the three-monlh period to the end of June, the number of ships confirmed lost was 20, representing 135,057 gt. In the full six months, taking account of major casualties confirmed as total losses through the end of June, 38 ships totaling 223,858 gt were lost. The comparable figures for 1994 were 48 ships totaling 621,037 gt.

"These totals represent reductions of approximately 21 percent and 64 percent, respectively, compared with the same period in 1994," the ILU said in a statement. "As usual, however, some major casualties, or partial losses, during the six months will probably convert to total losses or Constructive Total Losses (CTls), thereby increasing the totals.

"Casualty experience in 1994 was very disappointing for marine underwriters, so the reduction in the first half of 1995 is all the more welcome." The ILU continued: "The figures support recent comments from Salvage Association surveyors that the condition of vessels is improving, and this must reflect the hard line being taken on ship surveys and classification, and the increasing pressure on shipowners and managers from the IMO, Port State Control, the P&l clubs and marine insurers themselves." Bulker Loss Boosts Total The second quarter, like the first quarter, was notable for the absence of tanker losses. Cargo vessels accounted for 12 of the 20 losses (11 in the first quarter). Three bulk comers were lost in the six months, and the one in the second quarter was the most serious and biggest loss, accounting for 87,709 gt.

In June the Uberioitflog Mineral Dampier, built in 1985, on a voyage from Ponta da Madeira to Pohang, loaded with 167,000 Ions of iron ore fines, sank after a collision with another Liberianflag bulker, the Honjin Madras, 77,650 gt, built in 1990, which was in ballast about 160 miles south of Chuju Island in South Korean wateis. The accident resulted in two crew deaths and 25 reported missing. The Mineral Dampier was insured for $25.2 million, with an additional Increased Value policy for $10.8 million. Her cargo, it was reported, had an insured value of $2.75 million.

A second quarter loss was that of the Uberian-flag cargo vessel Alexandria, 8,328 gt, built in 1982, which had an insured value of $14.4 million. She sank after colliding with another cargo vessel, the Xin Hua 7, four miles off Busan. A first quarter casually that was declared a CTL in June was the Greek-flag RoRo cargo vessel Galini, 9,399 gt, built in 1979 and insured for $7 million.

Loss of life The ILU's casualty reports indicate that 53 people were either killed or reported missing as ihe result of total losses and major casualties in the April-June quarter.

"Although this is substantially below the total of 172 in the first quarter, it is still a matter of concern that the total for the six months was 225," the ILU said.

Updated totals for the calendar years 1993 and 1992 were, respectively, 615 and 386. The year 1994 showed a doubling of the figure compared with 1993, but the updated total of 1,478 was distorted by the Estonia ferry disaster.

The ILU adds its usual cautionary note that it is extremely difficult to collate loss of life figures accurately. Also, its statistics apply only to ships of 500 gt and over, thus excluding many fishing vessels and other craft.

 
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