AMSA classifies each reported incident into one or more categories to consistently describe what happened. Classifying incidents in this way helps to understand patterns of what has taken place and identify potential areas for safety improvement.

This classification does not explain why a marine incident happened, but rather provides a description of what occurred. Our analysis of why the marine incident occurred is described later in this report. 

The classification includes six primary categories:

1. Consequence: to the vessel, people, the environment, infrastructure
2. Technical: failure / missing / defective vessel equipment, structural or system
3. Operational: operational shortfall usually associated with the action or inaction of a person that impacted the outcome
4. Infrastructure and Support: failure or issues with vessel traffic services, navigational aids and other infrastructure support that directly affected vessel operations
5. Non-operational: other factors that are not directly related to the operation of the vessel
6. Environment: external influences (weather, dangerous species) that have a direct impact on the people and/or vessel and crew passenger safety

Since multiple classifications can be applied to one incident, there were 924 consequences to the vessel, people, the environment or infrastructure in the 758 incidents reported in 2020. The distribution of incident categories for 2020 is consistent with the 2019 data with consequence continuing to form the largest proportion of categories in 2020. The second most common category is Operational.

Figure 10. Number of incidents by type and severity (2020)
Figure 10. Number of incidents by type and severity (2020)

The next sections of this report will focus on Consequence, Operational, Technical and Environment groupings. The Infrastructure and Non-operational will not be discussed individually due to the limited amount of data associated with these categories (17 and 27 incidents respectively).