Insight | The future of maritime safety 2022


The future of maritime safety


Inmarsat's second Safety Report uncovers trends that can steer shipping into a safer future

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 and global supply chain disruption, total vessel losses across the industry have continued to steadily decrease, following a downward trend of 57% over the past decade. The Allianz Global Corporate and Speciality (AGCS) Safety and Shipping Review 2022 shows a drop from 65 total vessel losses in 2020 to 54 in 2021, suggesting the industry’s continued focus on regulation, improved ship design and technology and risk management advances are increasing overall trends in safety.  

The Future of Maritime Safety Report provides insights into safety trends from GMDSS data gathered between 2019-2021 and reveals patterns at a local and global level. Better understanding these patterns can help us to take proactive steps to prevent such incidents going forward and help guide us to a safer future. 

Key highlights

  • The analysis of 4-years of aggregated GMDSS distress data
  • The impact of COVID-19 on maritime safety
  • Tankers, fishing vessels and bulk carriers rank highest in distress call numbers, with the lowest incidents arising in passenger ships.
  • The need for collaborative and proactive approaches to safety underpinned by data and the use of available and future technology

Key Findings

While total vessel losses may be decreasing, data gathered by Inmarsat indicates a significant spike in Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) calls, rising abruptly from 597 in pre-COVID 2018 to 761 in 2019 and 834 in 2020, before a potential drop and re-stabilisation in 2021 with 749 incidents reported.

The data shows the top three sectors with the highest distress calls as tankers, fishing vessels and bulk carriers, with the lowest incidents arising in passenger ships.

As parts of the world began to stabilise from the effects of the pandemic in 2021, shipping too saw a stabilisation of GMDSS numbers, suggesting that many challenges caused by COVID-19 to crews and ships were lessening. It could also suggest that crews and owners have adapted to operating in this ‘new normal’ and can better anticipate and prepare for future safety issues.

“Anonymised data holds the potential to demonstrate trends that can be benchmarked to track progress, without creating liability or blame. It will allow us to know for a fact that something is an issue, rather than relying on conjecture or gut-instinct.” 

Peter Broadhurst, Senior Vice President of Safety & Security, Inmarsat Maritime


The report also includes opinion pieces from key thought leaders:

  • Dr Grahaeme Henderson OBE, Chair of ‘Together in Safety’
  • Cyrus Moody, International Maritime Bureau
  • Oliver Delteil, General Diretrat of Maritime Affairs
  • Trond Ski, NAVAREA Coordinator, Norwegian Coastal Administration, Chair of the IMO EGC Coordinating Panel
  • Theresa Crossley, CEO, International Maritime Rescue Federation
  • Christopher Janus, Branch Chief, Maritime Safety Watch, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • Peter Hult, CEO, Vikand

Download the report

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