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70% decline in annual ship losses over the past decade – Allianz Commercial

  • 70% decline in ship losses per year over the past decade
  • 1/3rd losses are from South China, Indochina, Indonesia, and the Philippines
  • Roughly a 5th of global crude oil fleet is part of a dark “shadow fleet”

The maritime industry is responsible for transporting 80-90% of international trade at any time.. The industry has made great progress in safety over recent years as per the latest findings from the 2024 Commercial Safety and Shipping Review by Allianz Commercial..

But, despite these improvements, new challenges continue to emerge, changing the risk profile of the sector and highlighting key areas of concern and progress..

Significant Decline in Shipping Losses

As per the report, one of the most notable achievements in maritime safety is the big drop in annual ship losses.. While in the 1990s the industry lost over 200 vessels of the global fleet each year, the number reduced to 89 vessels a decade ago, and that number decreased to a record low of 26 vessels in 2023..!!

70% decline in annual shipping losses over the past decade – Allianz
Source: Allianz

This decline of 70% in ship losses over the past decade can be attributed to better safety measures, improved ship design, and stricter rules..

The regions of South China, Indochina, Indonesia, and the Philippines accounted for nearly a third of all losses in 2023 owing to the high shipping traffic and risks in these key areas.. Continuous monitoring and special safety measures are crucial to keep and increase these gains..

70% decline in annual shipping losses over the past decade – Allianz
Source: Allianz

The reduction in shipping losses shows the industry’s commitment to safety and efficiency with enhanced training for crew members, the use of advanced navigation technologies, and strict maintenance protocols contributing to this positive trend..

International rules, such as those set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), have also helped standardize safety practices globally..

Impact of Geopolitical Conflicts

Geopolitical conflicts, especially in regions like Gaza and Ukraine, have deeply affected global shipping with the Red Sea region seeing over 100 ships targeted by Houthi militants.

This has significantly disrupted shipping routes and endangered crew safety increasing the vulnerability of maritime operations to regional conflicts and proxy wars.

The safety and well-being of seafarers in these conflict zones are also a major concern as the incidents in the Red Sea region alone have affected hundreds of crew members, worsening the industry’s existing workforce and skills shortage..

The psychological and physical toll on seafarers is significant, requiring strong support systems and protective measures..

The conflict in the Red Sea shows how global trade and geopolitics are connected with once safe shipping routes now considered to be dangerous, forcing ship operators to reassess their risk management strategies..

The use of armed security personnel and advanced surveillance technologies is becoming more common as a deterrent against potential threats..

Climate Change and Environmental Challenges

Climate change continues to pose significant challenges to the maritime industry. The ongoing drought in the Panama Canal, for example, has severely impacted shipping highlighting how environmental changes can disrupt global supply chains..

The Panama Canal’s drought situation illustrates the broader impact of climate change on maritime logistics as reduced water levels has affected shipping schedules and increased operational costs..

To mitigate these impacts, the industry is exploring alternative routes and investing in more efficient vessel designs..

Moreover, the industry’s ambitious decarbonization goals, such as a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, require significant innovation and investment..

Transitioning to alternative fuels and green technologies is essential but challenging as it needs new infrastructure and the safe handling of potentially hazardous materials..

In addition, the rerouting of ships around Africa to avoid the Red Sea/Suez Canal disruptions is also set to increase the emissions from the industry..

Rise of Maritime Piracy

Maritime piracy is rising again, with notable incidents off the Horn of Africa.. In 2023, there were 120 reported incidents globally, with the Gulf of Guinea and the Singapore Strait being significant hotspots.. The re-emergence of piracy in these regions poses a threat to shipping and requires coordinated international efforts to address..

The rise of piracy, coupled with the threat of technologically driven attacks like drone strikes and cyber-attacks, shows the evolving nature of maritime security threats that ship owners and operators must be aware of..

The industry’s reliance on technology makes it more vulnerable to such attacks.. This means enhanced cybersecurity measures and international collaboration are necessary..

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the Singapore Strait has become more advanced. Pirates now use sophisticated tactics and equipment.. Kidnappings for ransom and armed robberies are common, putting seafarers’ lives at risk..

Collaborative efforts, like joint naval patrols and information-sharing initiatives, are essential to combat this menace effectively..

The Shadow Fleet and Regulatory Challenges

As per the report, “The gradual tightening of international sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports over the past three years since its invasion of Ukraine has resulted in the emergence of a sizable ‘shadow fleet’ of tankers, mostly older vessels that operate outside international regulation and often without proper insurance.

These older, often poorly maintained vessels engage in dangerous practices like ship-to-ship transfers and AIS transponder deactivation to avoid detection..

The shadow fleet, mainly driven by sanctions on countries like Russia and Iran, highlights the complex link between geopolitics and maritime operations and underscores the need for strict regulatory enforcement and international cooperation to mitigate these risks..

The shadow fleet’s operations are a growing concern for environmental and safety regulators.. These vessels often operate under flags of convenience, making it hard to enforce compliance with international safety standards..

The lack of proper maintenance and oversight increases the risk of accidents and environmental disasters, such as oil spills, which can have devastating consequences..


The 2024 Commercial Safety and Shipping Review shows an industry that has made significant safety advancements but continues to face many challenges..

Geopolitical conflicts, climate change, piracy, cargo theft, and shadow fleets are among the key issues that need ongoing attention and action..

Maritime safety is not just about preventing losses but also about ensuring the well-being of seafarers and protecting the environment..

These complex issues notwithstanding, a balanced approach that combines technological innovation, regulatory enforcement, and international collaboration will be crucial for sustaining progress and addressing new threats..

You can access the full Allianz Commercial Safety and Shipping Review 2024 here..

Source: Allianz Commercial, “Safety and Shipping Review 2024.”

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


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