In the morning of January 12, MS Fridtjof Nansen, an expedition passenger ship ran aground en route from Honningsvag to Fla, in Sognefjorsd, Norway. It carried 233 passengers and 165 crew members on board. The vessel suffered a hull breach with controllable water ingress. This incident was one of the lucky ones as there was no report of casualty. However, other maritime incidents are not so fortunate leading to vessel destruction, loss of cargo and human lives, and even environmental pollution. The failure and damage of machines was the top cause of worldwide maritime incidents accounting for 40% of all reported events.

M/V Arvin – not as fortunate as MS Fridtjof Nansen

2021 was marked by a series of notorious shipping incidents. M/V Arvin, a general cargo vessel, was on its way to Bulgaria from Georgia carrying saltpetre. The ship was caught in a devastating storm on 17 January 2021 cutting it into two. It sank in 5 minutes. Four crew members were killed and three people missing. Although official documents show that the vessel was checked for sea worthiness, it appeared that the boat is one of 78 ships built in the former USSR from 1973-1985. Alas, these vessels are meant for river or calm summer sea navigations. They will not endure nasty storms.

When loss of lives occurs in maritime accidents, the shipowner is liable for the actions of the Captain and other officers. Under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), it is the responsibility of the shipowner to compensate for an illness, injury, disability, or death due to an occupational  accident. However, in some cases, families are encouraged to hire an offshore injury lawyer to help them seek compensation for their loss. The shipping company should also pay the burial expenses of seafarers who perish on board or ashore during the period of employment.

Rising Costs of Maintenance

No doubt, it is the duty of the vessel owner or company to provide a seaworthy ship that can safely transport passengers or cargo. Careful loading, handling, stowage, and delivery are also obligations of shipowners. To ensure that vessels are safe to operate on a body of water, it is vital that general maintenance and inspections are undertaken.

One of the main issues affecting the ability to repair and adhere to manufacturer’s guidelines is the rising costs of repair and spare parts. Vessels also get bigger and are fitted with larger engines. When they fail, the costs of repairing them are enormous and replacement parts often take a long time to arrive. It is also a problem to determine when timely repairs and replacement must be performed. The good news is manufacturers are now installing the internet of things devices on the ship’s engine so that real time data can be collected. This development will enable well-timed alerts of maintenance recommendations to avoid potential breakdowns and fatal accidents.

Shipping accidents are devastating, causing injuries, destruction, and loss of life. A properly maintained vessel can reduce the occurrence of sea accidents and prevent harmful consequences.