Why did we do this report

The ATSB receives reports on accidents and other safety incidents involving Australian registered trading vessels (cargo and/or passengers) around the world and trading vessels flying foreign flags within Australia’s maritime jurisdictions. The aim of this report is to provide participants in the shipping industry and other interested parties with information on what accidents and incidents have happened, how often they have happened, and what can be learnt from them.

What the ATSB found

In 2012, there were 154 marine safety occurrences reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. This was over 50 per cent higher than the 2005-12 average of 100 occurrences each year. The increase in occurrences in 2012 was due to substantial increases in the number of reported ‘incidents’ (137) and ‘serious incidents’ (12). Fewer than 10 accidents were reported each year between 2005 and 2012, with five in 2012.

Between 2005 and 2012, there were 245 people killed, missing or seriously injured from reported marine occurrences. In 2012 there were 6 deaths and 33 serious injuries; the latter was the highest number for any year of the report period.

Bulk carriers and cargo vessels (including container, roll-on – roll-off cargo, heavy lift and livestock ships) have been the most common vessels involved in occurrences since 2005 and their involvement increased substantially in 2012. There were also increases in the involvement of tankers, offshore support vessels and tugs.

The number of foreign vessels involved in occurrences grew considerably in 2012. This was predominantly due to an increased involvement in incidents (up 55 per cent on 2011), but there were also more foreign registered vessels involved in serious incidents.

The number of Australian registered vessels involved in occurrences also increased in 2012 and the highest number of occurrences recorded was by Australian, Panamanian and Singaporean registered vessels.

Between 2005 and 2012, the most common types of occurrence were damage to the ship or equipment, serious injury and equipment failure. In 2012, there were increases in five of the six most common occurrence types, with serious injury, equipment failure and machinery failure reaching their highest levels for any year of the 2005-2012 period.

Safety message

Marine occurrence statistics provide a reminder to everyone involved in shipping that accidents, incidents, and injuries happen more often than is widely believed. Some of the most frequent accident types are preventable, particularly fatalities to crew and shipboard workers. Operators should learn from the experiences of others in the industry to help identify the safety risks in their operation that could lead to a similar accident or serious incident.

Thorough reporting of safety incidents is paramount. Analysis of reported occurrences helps to understand why accidents and incidents happen, and where the major safety risks are. This helps everyone in the marine industry to better manage their safety risk.

Publication Mode
Investigation number
Publication date
Publication type
Subject Matter