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Risk of shipping accidents

Ship-to-ship collisions and groundings are by far the most frequent type of accidents at open sea.The risk of accidents is not equivalent with the risk of spills as:

  • only a small percentage of all accidents results in spills
  • the risk of spill varies greatly depending on the ship size and ship type, i.e. not every accident results in the same kind of spill.

Figure 1.: Risk of collisions and groundings.
Figure 1.: Risk of collisions and groundings. The size of the bubbles corresponds to the accident risk, i.e. the expected number of accidents per year. The total number of accidents corresponds to approximately 44 groundings and 4 collisions with ships of 300 gross tonnage and above per year.

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Figure 2.: Risk of collisions.
Figure 2.: Risk of collisions in the Baltic Sea at a larger scale. A ship-to-ship collision is about on average roughly 100 times as dangerous in terms of spill risk as grounding.Download a bigger map:

Other types of accidents at open sea, such as fires and explosions, collisions with fixed objects (wind farms, large buoys, offshore installations), releases from offshore structures, foundering and hard weather damage, have also been investigated and have been found to be much less frequent.


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