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Major shipping losses drop to 21st-century low

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Large shipping losses fell to their lowest level this century when fewer than 50 vessels were lost worldwide last year, although the number of incidents held steady.

Some 46 vessels above 100 gross tonnes were lost, down from 98 in 2017 and fewer than half the 10-year average of 104, according to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty.

Annual reported losses have fallen by more than 65% over the past decade, down from 132 in 2009 and 207 in 2000, the insurer’s latest Safety & Shipping Review says.

The maritime region of south China, Indochina, Indonesia and Philippines remains the top loss location, although numbers there fell to 12 vessels last year from 29 in 2017. Weather-related losses halved to 10 thanks to quieter hurricane and typhoon seasons.

Improved ship design and technology, tighter regulations and more robust safety systems have helped stop breakdowns and accidents spiralling into major losses.

Nevertheless, there were 2698 reported shipping incidents overall, down only 1% on the previous year.

Challenges ahead include rules limiting sulphur oxide emissions from January and a growing number of fires, the report says.

Political risk increasingly poses a threat “through conflicts, territorial disputes, cyber attacks, sanctions, piracy and even sabotage”.

Piracy incidents increased last year to more than 200, with Nigeria the global hotspot.