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Financial crisis affecting shipping safety performance

Oslo: Updated figures from DNV for 2008 show that losses from navigational accidents within the shipping industry are continuing to increase. This trend is also confirmed by the insurance industry which describes 2008 as a "black year for catastrophes"
DNV monitors the annual frequency of serious accidents. Over the past six years, there has been an increasing incidence of serious navigational accidents in several shipping segments. This is confirmed by leading insurance companies. Collisions, groundings and contact accidents now account for 60 per cent of the most costly accidents. Ola Skauge,Director of Client Services Norwegian Hull Club, said: "In the previous year we noticed a significant raise in claims frequency which hit ship owners and insurers hard. Now the financial crisis is battering us, adding even more challenges to the maritime industry. It is in these times responsible players emerge and investments in safety excellence are proven right. Norwegian Hull Club support the Class' pro active efforts to send some warning signals, and we expect determined and long term ship owners to continue to focus on safety also amidst the financial turmoil. Cost cutting may be a necessary operational exercise, but cutting corners and losing safety focus will surely jeopardise a sustainable shipping industry."
DNV's statistics show that a ship is twice as likely to be involved in a serious grounding, collision or contact accident today compared to only six years ago. In addition, estimates show that the costs of these accidents have doubled
Bjorn Tore Markussen, Director and Head of DNV Maritime Solutions in Singapore said: "It is alarming that, over the past six years, we have experienced a doubling of the frequency of navigational accidents. We need to reverse this trend and re-establish the industry's good safety performance level."
Dr Torkel Soma, principal consultant and head of DNV Maritime Solutions' Safety Excellence services, pointed out the following: "Collisions, groundings and contact accidents almost always involve human acts. But it is a common misunderstanding that the governing cause behind these accidents is lack of professional competence. More navigational training does not keep the officers more awake and it does not make it easier to speak up. The fact is that it has never been easier to navigate ships safely. But in order to efficiently benefit from this, the circumstances around the onboard activities must be coordinated with good leadership and teamwork onboard and from shore."
Markussen summarised: "Shipping has over the last years had a poor development in safety performance. We know that the current market situation might draw attention and investments further away from operational safety. Therefore, I am fairly sure we will continue to see a range of severe losses during 2009. Losses that could have been prevented by a more holistic management of the organisational changes we see are being implemented all around us. The old saying is still valid: If you think safety is expensive - try an accident." [30/04/09]


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