A survey of total loss accidents in merchant shipping over a period of 25 years shows that these can be arranged in the following order: stranding, fire, water-leaks, gales and collision; other accidents are also taken into consideration.
The analysis considers ships over 500grt of different flags, plying any route of navigation and trade. Initially, a sample of 500 merchant ships - of different types and tonnage - and under 15 different flags is analysed to determine age and type of ship, and the causes of loss. On a second analysis, the same 15 flags are considered, but now over a wider range on a sample totaling 1,500 merchant ships. The results of both analyses are compared. It is shown that fire together with explosion amounts to 25% of maritime casualty returns -in the total loss lists- while stranding and fire take more than 50% of the toll. On considering flags one by one with over 100 ships, Greece and Spain are the flags where the highest number of accidents by fire is to be found, while Japan is the lowest. In this latter flag "collision" is the leading accident eventually ending in a casualty.
The above is a summary of the article that appeared in the IFE Journal (January 1999) by S. Mendiola & J.J. Achútegui, and M.A. De la Rosa.