Carnage at sea in August. What’s happened and why?

Superyacht Hooligan pictured. Photo credit - Nomme Rescue Unit, Tallin
Superyacht Hooligan pictured. Photo credit – Nomme Rescue Unit, Tallin

We hear all the time about exciting breakthroughs in new technology and enhanced safety management systems designed to keep lives and assets safe at sea. We read in various reports that, in general, the number of serious incidents and accidents is falling year on year. So, what on earth went wrong in August? If you can help me to make sense of it all, please do so!

The number of incidents, mishaps, and accidents last month all over the world at sea and in ports is eyewatering – beyond belief – and frankly, more than anyone would agree is acceptable. In many instances, the cause and recommendations that come from the incidents, which will be formally investigated by maritime accident and investigation boards, will not be known for many months.

It is not just the distress of the incident or accident itself, of course, the cost of which falls to the insurers to pick up. In many of the cases in August, loss of life has been tragically high. This causes untold misery for partners and friends who have lost loved ones and whose lives are changed forever.

Of course, I have no solution. I am merely the bearer of this bad news. We all know the risks and dangers of working and playing at sea. But 2022 is shaping up to be a thoroughly rotten year given the number of accidents leading to loss of life and marine assets. Something is surely going wrong, or is this just a bizarre coincidence? Media reports suggest some of the accidents could be associated with human error – yes that old nugget again. So, are we to assume that people have become complacent, or are incompetent and poorly trained, and have lost sight of the basic requirements for being at sea? Or is mechanical failure and poor maintenance to blame?

August was a particularly bad month – the worst anyone can seem to recall – for superyacht incidents. There seems to be no common thread, but the number is just too high, and several superyachts look like being declared total write-offs.

Here’s a headline list only of some 20 incidents and accidents that occurred and were reported last month. I will leave you to make your own judgement.
1. Cargo ship’s wheelhouse ripped apart by bridge
2. 27 metre Canados yacht catches fire in Tallinn
3. Ferry runs aground in the Philippines after helmsman ‘falls asleep’
4. New 44 metre superyacht destroyed by fire off Spanish coast
5. 39 metre motor yacht sinks in Italy
6. Zim declares general average after hold fire damaged containers
7. Containership hits crane at Vietnam
8. One dead after fishing vessel collides with USCG cutter
9. Two bulkers collide at Istanbul
10. One dead and seventeen missing after fire at Cuban petroleum terminal
11. Fire erupts on newly built trawler in Russia
12. Hard landing causes significant damage to Washington ferry
13. Container ship capsizes at pier in Japan
14. Cargo ship and bulker damaged in Sabine Pass collision
15. One dead after pier collapses at Keppel Shipyard
16. Five rescued from fire on 36 metre experimental yacht MS Porrima
17. Eleven missing after cargo ship capsizes in Makassar Strait
18. Gibraltar spillage fears after bulk carrier and cargo ship collide
19. Three seafarers dead in Italy after container explosion
20. Suez Canal blocked again after tanker becomes stuck

Mike Schwarz
IIMS Chief Executive Officer

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