Despite a trebling of the global commercial shipping fleet in the 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic, overall shipping loss rates declined from one ship per 100 per year in 1912 to one ship per 670 per year in 2009.
This telling statistic comes in a new report from specialist marine insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).
The report reveals that while marine safety has vastly improved in the century since the Titanic, the maritime industry now faces new risks driven by the continued growth in world shipping.
Human error risks and the growing trend to super size ships are among the next challenges facing the industry, AGCS says.
Human error is described as the weakest link in the system.
Over 75 percent of marine losses can be attributed to a wide range of human error factors, including fatigue, inadequate risk management and competitive pressures, as well as potential deficiencies in training and crewing levels.
As technological improvements reduce risk, so does the weakest link in the system Ã¢â‚¬“ the human factor Ã¢â‚¬“ become more important. This is where the industry should focus most closely, so that best practice risk management and a culture of safety becomes second nature across the world fleet.Ã¢â‚¬
Other significant safety risks include: increasing bureaucracy on board ships; the continued threat of piracy off Somalia and elsewhere; and the emergence of ice shipping and its associated navigational and environmental complications.
Still, shipping disasters tend to spur marine safety improvements and Costa Concordia is certain to be no different, the report says.
Another key takeaway from AGCSÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s research on safety and shipping from 1912-2012:
Marine transport is one of the safest means of passenger transport overall with far lower fatal accident rates than car, motorcycle, bicycle or walking in Europe.
Business Insurance has more on this story.