From Titanic to Concordia

One hundred years after the sinking of the Titanic, specialist marine insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty has released a report entitled Safety and Shipping 1912-2012: from Titanic to Costa Concordia.

The report, developed with the Seafarers’ International Research Centre (SIRC) of Cardiff University in the UK, not only reviews safety developments and trends over this period – it also looks ahead to emerging shipping risks and future challenges for the marine industry. Key findings include:

  • Shipping safety has greatly improved, but challenges remain.
  • Key challenges include increased ship sizes, ‘human element’ factors such training and crewing, and new shipping activity in polar waters.
  • Challenges can be met – but only through open dialogue between all parties.


Safety and Shipping 1912-2012: From Titanic to Costa Concordia

Maritime safety has improved greatly since the days of the Titanic, though every subsequent shipping disaster is another call for further safety improvements. Advancements in new technology and regulation have helped the cause tremendously, but as the industry continues to grow, new risks continue to emerge. Future challenges now include factors such as increased ship sizes, ‘human element’ themes such training, crewing and risk management, and the trend toward arctic shipping with its associated navigational and environmental complications.

Commenting on findings such as these in the report, Dr. Sven Gerhard, AGCS’s Global Product Leader Hull & Marine Liabilities, says, “While the seas are safer than ever today, the industry needs to address these new risks proactively. For example, ultra-large ships pose challenges for insurers due to their sheer size and value, while others raise concerns on structural integrity and failure. While scale alone does not make these ships riskier, the increased sizes introduce specific risks that need to be addressed, such as salvage and recovery considerations and emergency handling.”


(Modern cruise ship safety features – Click image to enlarge)

While technologies such as RADAR or Global Positioning Systems have driven improved safety, it has often been major accidents to trigger key changes. Just as the Titanic spurred regulations for ice navigation and life-saving equipment and procedures, the Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987 brought attention to the International Safety Management code, which the International Maritime Organization adopted in 1993.


(Key milestones in maritime safety since 1912 – Click image to enlarge)

Today, even ship construction techniques are a far cry from 1912 with technological innovations such as welding, computer-aided design and prefabrication to lead the way. Ships are considered to be ‘assembled’ most often, rather than ‘constructed’. This shift toward prefabrication and the innovation of welding has improved the quality of construction and made a notable contribution to the improvement of vessel safety.

Structure design has not been the only focus of attention as innovations on the bridge have also advanced tremendously. Since the Titanic, modern seafaring systems have taken over, increasing navigational aids on board and safety monitoring devices.


(Modern ship’s bridge, courtesy of Kongsberg Maritime – Click image to enlarge)

AGCS marine risks consultants from all around the globe, many of whom have been sailing as officers and captains themselves, took part in research interviews sharing their know-how on shipping risks for the report.

The full report with the title “Safety and Shipping 1912-2012: from Titanic to Costa Concordia” is available for download here, or visit the Safety and Shipping report’s downloads page for more materials.

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