2015 Off to a Horrendous Start for Maritime Industry

The upturned hull of the MV Cemb
The upturned hull of the MV Cemfjord north of Scotland. Photo courtesy RNLI

The global maritime industry seems to be off to a horrendous start in 2015.

The turn of the year was supposed to be about new environmental regulations and “ECO” ships that would lead the global shipping industry to a greener future, new safety requirements, increased optimism almost across the board, and continued innovation, but so far those headlines have been marred with casualties from almost all corners of the globe.

In the UK, there have been two serious accidents so far this year: the grounding, albeit intentionally, of the Hoegh Osaka car carrier in the Solent and loss of the cement carrier MV Cemfjord north of Scotland which claimed the lives of all 8 crewmembers.

Off Vietnam, the bulk carrier MV Bulk Jupiter unexpectedly sank with the loss of all but one of the 19 onboard. That accident, although not known for sure, has been attributed to the liquefaction of the ship’s bauxite cargo, a typically low risk cargo as far as bulk cargoes go.

In the South China Sea near Singapore, a crude oil tanker and a bulk carrier collided on January 2nd, spilling some 4,500 barrels of crude oil into the water, but luckily no injuries were reported.

In Libya, a Greek-operated oil tanker anchored off the coast was bombed by a military aircraft resulting in deaths of two crewmembers, a testament to the continued geopolitical turmoil in the region and the escalation of violence in Libya.

Maritime migration in the Mediterranean has also been continuing to make headlines, capping off a record year for crossings and tragedies. Specifically, there were two incidents involving migrants boats: the MV Blue Sky M cargo ship carrying an estimated 1,000 migrants and the MV Ezadeen, a livestock carrier that was carrying an estimated 400 migrants. In both cases, the ships had been abandoned by their crew.

Over the holiday period, the Mediterranean also saw its fair share of accidents. There was the Norman Atlantic ferry fire which resulted in the at least 11 deaths and prompted an air rescue of hundreds of passengers. During the response to that accident, two Albanian crewmembers from a tugboat were killed when the towing line to the ferry parted.

On Christmas, 3 crewmembers from a cargo ship were killed when their cargo ship sank off the coast of Japan.

Pretty bad. And keep in mind that this just an unofficial list of the accidents that we know about, there may have been others.

Now whether or not this spate of recent casualties is actually unusual or unprecedented for this time of year (in terms of casualty statistics), or if it’s just that most of the incidents have been relatively high-profile, it’s hard to tell and we don’t really know for sure. Either way, here’s to hoping for a better year ahead.