To obtain a better understanding of tanker safety, INTERTANKO records publicly reported tanker incidents. The number so far this year has followed the positive improvement trend of the last couple of years.
Type cause dwt %
Collision 20 23
Grounding 22 26
Hull&Machinery 26 30
Fire/Explosion 13 15
Miscellaneous 5 6
Total 86 100
The biggest accidental loss of oil occurred in Algeciras Bay shortly after the Prestige incident. A Spanish bunker barge sank with some 1,000 tons of fuel oil, but little pollution was reported on the beaches at the time.
Mainly based on information from Informa, INTERTANKO has recorded 86 tanker incidents January-July 2003. Most of the incidents have been minor and pollution has been recorded in 7 cases, the biggest of which, beside the bunker barge spill mentioned, above, were a 125-tonne chemical spill and a 50-tonne diesel spill. We do not yet have figures regarding the tanker that grounded outside Karachi at the end of July nor the tanker that developed cracks in the hull in bad weather outside South Africa.
The most worrying accidents have been four serious explosions that have caused eleven fatalities. There were also five fatalities reported when fire broke out at a tanker taken out of service at Alang ship-breaking yard. Hull and Machinery accidents represented almost a third of total incidents during the first half of 2002. 11 of these involved engine failure, 6 steering problems and 5 hull problems.
Some 17 of all tankers involved in incidents were chemical tankers and another 8 chemical/oil tankers. About half the incidents involved tankers that were below 30,000 dwt and only 15 incidents involved tankers that were above 100,000 dwt. The statistics are based on public information but the Classification Societies and insurers probably have reports of more incidents. Some incidents involving tankers, for example those with high deductibles, may not
be reported at all.
It would benefit the industry if incidents were more systematically reported by a recognized body and better analyzed to find their root cause.