Published on Australian Maritime Safety Authority (

Conclusion, resources and glossary

This annual report will support a data-driven approach which is essential for improving safety in an increasingly complex maritime context. 

The data suggests that reporting of maritime incidents has improved, with a significant increase in the reporting of less serious incidents. The vast majority of these reports are of a technical nature (78.4%), with personal consequences representing 14.7% of incident reports. The increased reporting rate is a positive sign in terms of industry commitment to safety, and suggests that industry engagement initiatives are yielding results. However, the upward trend in serious incidents between 2018 and 2019 indicates that a concerted effort on improving safety, and safety culture should remain a priority for the maritime sector. 

There were seven incidents that resulted in fatalities between 2016 and 2019. Six of these incidents involved crew members and were associated with elevator maintenance (2), electrical shock (1) and falls from height (3). These present immediate focus areas for improving safety. As a result of these fatalities, AMSA has issued marine notices and safety awareness bulletins focusing specifically on the safety issues that contributed to these fatalities. 

The majority of technical failures reported involved power, propulsion and steering, followed by navigation monitoring equipment and engineering systems. Again, these leading sources of failure provide valuable focus for safety initiatives. Additionally, the higher percentage of serious incidents
on vessels greater than 20 years old highlights the need for a focus on effective maintenance to improve reliability and safety in ageing vessels. 

The second highest consequence of maritime incidents for 2019 was pollution, at 23.3%. This highlights the impact maritime incidents can have on our fragile marine environment. 

Analysis of the data summarised in this report provides insights that have, and will continue to guide AMSA’s education and engagement initiatives. 

AMSA recognises the strategic importance of collaborating with our stakeholders, and this includes educating our maritime community. As such, AMSA has leveraged incident data and the latest maritime safety and human factors research to produce a range of publications that target the safety priorities identified in this report. These publications include Safety Awareness Bulletins and Marine Notices.

Safety publications

Safety Awareness Bulletins are published biannually, with topics prioritised on safety data. In particular, the following safety awareness bulletins were published in response to maritime incident trends, as summarised in this report: 

  1. Working at heights (February 2015)
  2. Electrical safety (March 2016)
  3. Working over the side (September 2016)
  4. Risk assessment (September 2016)
  5. Marine incident reporting (September 2017)
  6. Maintenance (March 2018)
  7. Safe vessel access (September 2018)

Additionally, AMSA issued a number of marine notices in response to safety incidents, including Marine Notice 2020/01 Fatal accidents caused by moving elevators on ships.

Glossary – vessel type classifications

Bulk: bulk carriers

Tanker: oil tanker, gas carrier, chemical tanker, NLS tanker

General cargo / multi-purpose: vehicle carrier, general cargo/multi-purpose ship, wood-chip carrier, heavy load carrier, ro-ro cargo ship, refrigerated cargo vessel, combination carrier

Container: container ship

Passenger: passenger ship, commercial yacht

Special purpose: special purpose ship, livestock carrier, mobile offshore drilling unit or floating production storage and offloading unit

Other: other types of ship, tug, offshore service vessel