DESPITE a 7.6% decrease in distress calls in 2023 over the previous year the 2024 edition of The Future of Maritime Safety Report from Inmarsat Maritime reports there is still a need for real improvements in maritime safety.

The report showed that Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) were triggered on 788 occasions, close to the six-year average of 799 calls per year.

It said persistent high figures highlight the need for a unified approach in data utilization.

According to the report the maritime industry is beginning to overcome some operational challenges linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, such as limited inspections and disrupted maintenance schedules.

“However, with the emergence of potential new safety risks associated with future fuels – particularly in the context of the industry’s transition to more sustainable practices – and escalating geopolitical tensions, the industry must intensify its efforts to mitigate preventable safety issues,” the report said.

The Future of Maritime Safety report gives a snapshot of current safety metrics and urges the maritime industry to embrace data sharing and collaborative problem-solving as the industry strives to navigate through significant changes, including the transition to greener propulsion technologies.

The report addresses concerns about data pooling by suggesting the casualty and incident data be anonymised.

Senior Vice President, Safety and Regulatory at Inmarsat Maritime, Peter Broadhurst,  said by harnessing the power of anonymised safety data it was possible to identify trends, develop specific mitigation measures, and enhance the overall safety of ships and crews.

He said technology played a critical role in supporting these efforts, noting that “modern technology offers unprecedented opportunities to improve safety through better data analysis and sharing.

The report also wants the shipping industry to establish a list of standard data points to monitor and report, including casualties and incidents, injuries or deaths at sea, and near misses and calls for trend analysis to support the development of safety measures to deal with well-known and recurring safety issues.

“Although progress has been made, shipping continues to experience significant casualty rates,” Mr Broadhurst said.

“We collect vast amounts of safety data, yet the current siloed-working model hinders our ability to fully leverage the actionable insights available to us. By pooling data, we can create a more holistic and objective view of maritime safety to inform performance improvements and ultimately reduce the occurrence of preventable safety incidents to save lives at sea.”