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Most dangerous seafaring accidents

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2021 | Maritime Law |

Working on a ship may be risky and dangerous. Ship crews face the risk of these common and potentially fatal accidents regardless of new laws and safety precautions.

Man overboard situations

Maritime law has many requirements that are intended to reduce risks and injuries. But serious and fatal accidents, such as a man overboard accident, persist.

A man overboard situation involves a person falling into water while working or because of an accident. Despite training, bad weather and heavy seas can still impede rescue operations. Water temperatures may also cause hypothermia or other fatal conditions.

Enclosed spaces

This is also a common onboard accident that causes serious injuries and casualties. These occur when crew enter a confined space which is not properly free of gas and contains pockets of toxic and flammable gases.

Enclosed spaces have also contributed to hot work accidents when hot work is being conducted and proper procedures are not followed.

Work in these spaces require caution. But officers often neglect enclosed space entry procedures which place their crews at risk.

Electrical shock

Electrical shock accidents have led to shipboard fatalities. These were caused by unattended electrical corrections, exposed wiring, and failing to take appropriate precautions while handling electrical equipment.

Machine explosions

Machinery and systems that are improperly maintained have caused major explosions which have destroyed ship property and killed seafarers working nearby. These have included compressor blasts, crankcase explosions and boiler blasts.


Seafarers must often work at heights on ships that require the use of safety harnesses and other apparatus. Despite these precautions, however, several crew members died or suffered permanent injuries from falling or slipping from heights, safety device failure, falling inside cargo holds during inspection and negligence.

Crew members and crew have also suffered injuries from gangway falls. Lack of maintenance and failure of gangway wire rope usually caused these accidents.


Mooring operations require sufficient skills and knowledge and is extremely dangerous. Each year, several officers and crew members are killed in mooring operation accidents.

Lifeboat drills

Lifeboat testing during drills is an important shipboard routine. Ironically, however, lifeboats may have taken more lives than were saved because of accidents during these drills. New safety regulations have not stopped fatalities and injuries from these accidents.


Piracy is not an accident but is still a violent, criminal, and life-threatening act. Pirates use RPGs, guns and other dangerous weapons while attempting to hijack the vessel. They have also boarded ships and killed crewmembers during their looting.

Despite following maritime rules and governing standards of care, there may lawsuits for these injuries. Attorneys can help assure that a party’s rights are protected in these suits.


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