Published on Australian Maritime Safety Authority (

Incident trends by severity

Marine incidents are classified by AMSA into one of three severity levels, as described below:

severity level: very serious, serious and less serious.

AMSA also classifies injuries into one of two categories as below:

Serious injuries include injuries that require emergency treatment, in most cases leading to an emergency medivac from the vessel, and/or hospitalisation; Minor injuries (none of the above) may require first aid treatment on the vessel. Crew able to work

On average, 96.4% of incidents reported each year are less serious incidents. The number of very serious incidents has been stable over the last four years with a total of seven very serious incidents reported between the 2016 to 2019 period. One occurred in 2016 and two annually from 2017 through 2019. 

In 2019, 0.06% of reported incidents were very serious (2), 4.2% serious (141) and 95.8% less serious (3228).

Figure 5. Number of incidents reported each year classified by severity


Reported incidents by vessel type 

Between 2016 and 2019, 4909 unique vessels were associated with the 12,349 marine incident reports. This represents an average of 2.5 incidents reported per vessel over the four year period. Annually, the average of 1.7 incidents reported per vessel has remained consistent. 

In 2019, 2004 unique vessels were involved in the 3371 marine incidents reported.

Figure 6. Number of vessels involved in marine incidents to number of incidents reported by year


In 2019, the majority (54.5%) of incident reports came from bulk carriers followed by container vessels. This is consistent with previous years’ data.

Figure 7. Distribution of reported incidents by vessel type and year


Figure 8 represents the annual percentage of reported incidents in relation to the percentage of port arrivals from 2016 to 2019. Although the results show consistency across the years in the proportion of reported incidents as related to the proportion of port arrivals, there are some minor differences. For example, between 2018 and 2019 the increase in the bulk carrier sector did not result in an increase in reporting. 

In 2019, bulk carriers represented 55.4% of reported marine incidents and 50.4% of port arrivals. Although passenger vessels only represented 3.9% of port arrivals, they represented 7.1% of reported incidents. Similarly, special purpose vessels represented 1.4% of 2019 port arrivals but 4.3% of reported incidents.

Figure 8. Distribution of reported incidents and port arrivals by vessel type and year (2016 to 2019)

The proportion of very serious and serious incidents in relation to less serious incidents varies by the type of vessel. Although bulk carriers have the highest number of reported incidents, the rate of very serious and serious incidents is proportionally lower (3.2%) when compared to other vessel types. The ‘other’ vessel types (which include tugs, offshore service vessels and other) represent the highest proportion (9.9%) of very serious and serious incidents. This is followed by 7.9% for passenger vessels and 7.7 % for special purpose vessels.



Figure 9. Number of reported incidents by vessel type and severity (2019)

Reported incidents by location

Most incidents in 2019 occurred while the vessel was within port limits (44.2%) with a similar percentage (42.8%) occurring outside of coastal waters3 but within the limits of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).



Figure 10. Location of incidents (2019)

Reported incidents by age of vessel

In 2019, vessels more than 15 years old represented approximately 8% of port arrivals and 24% of reported incidents.


Figure 11. Distribution of reported incidents and port arrivals by age of vessel (2019)

Footnote 3: Coastal waters incidents occur within 3 nautical miles offshore.