Freight News, Sea

Serious bridge incidents thankfully rare, says insurance expert

[ March 28, 2024   //   ]

Captain Rahul Khanna, global head of marine risk consulting at insurer, Allianz Commercial says that there have been almost 2,000 reported incidents of vessels colliding with port infrastructure such as harbour walls over the past decade around the world and 203 contact with infrastructure incidents involving container ships – most commonly with port infrastructure such as harbour walls, piers, quay and locks. But bridge incidents such as the Baltimore disaster are rare and there is in fact no exact data.

However, Allianz quotes an academic paper which shows that, from 1960 to 2015, there were 35 major bridge collapses worldwide due to ship or barge collision with a total loss of life of 342 people, 18 of which occurred in the US. Collisions with bridges do not necessarily result in collapse of the structure or loss of life.

During a two-week period in January 2016, there were six separate barge collisions with highway and rail bridges crossing the Mississippi River due to floods, none of which were catastrophic, but the bridges had to be closed temporarily for inspections and repairs.

The shipping industry has greatly improved safety over the past decade in particular and 30 years ago the global fleet was losing over 200 vessels a year. In 2022 fewer than 40 losses were reported, reflecting the increased focus on safety measures. Nevertheless, while total losses have declined the number of shipping incidents around has remained at around 3,000 a year.

Captain Rahul Khanna  added that as well as the tragic loss of life, the incident here will be a large financial loss, given the extent of the damage to the bridge and the surrounding area, along with blocked port access, cargo loss and environmental implications.