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Casualties, Inspections, Detentions - What is vessel incident data?

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

Vessel incident data is one of the oldest datasets available within the maritime domain. It’s origins can be found with Edward Lloyd’s list of vessels in 1692 who’s namesakes: Lloyd’s List, Lloyd’s of London and Lloyd’s Register still remain industry powerhouses to this day.

In recent times, this data has thankfully been substantially modernised and forms the backbone to a huge number of risk analysis methodologies for vessels and fleets through; insurance, P&I, chartering, vetting and many more use cases.



What is Vessel Incident data and where does it come from? 

Vessel incident data can be split into 4 distinct categories:

Casualty reporting

Casualty reports are records of damage to/caused by vessels, ranging from a minor machinery failure through to the blocking of the Suez Canal. The data originates from thousands of sources including coastguards, search and rescue, salvage, which is then amalgamated by the data suppliers to create a more complete dataset.

Port State Control Inspections

Port State Control agencies are responsible for the inspection of vessels as they enter ports and are considered by the IMO to be the ‘safety net to catch sub-standard ships’

Each year thousands of these inspections are conducted and findings are reported on the individual MOU’s (Memorandum of Understanding) websites. Several suppliers will bring these datasets together to form as complete a picture as possible on the vessels which have shown deficiencies in these inspections.

Port State Control Seizures

Following on from the inspections, should a vessel demonstrate that it is ‘unfit to proceed to sea or the deficiencies pose an unreasonable risk to the ship, its crew or the environment’ the vessel will be seized, and unable to leave port until the deficiency/deficiencies have been rectified.

This information is also recorded on the websites of the MOUs, and thus can be aggregated by suppliers or accessed separately.

Vessel Arrests

While the high-profile reports of vessel arrests are often relating to drugs, arms, or other smuggling activities, most of these records will be based on debts or claims against the vessel, or one of the companies within its ownership structure.

Vessel arrest data is typically more challenging to obtain, as there is no body or regulation mandating the public recording of this.

How can I use it? 


The data detailed above has several applications, but to provide a basic framework we’ll split this into two:

Risk Management:

The simple logic here is: More deficiencies/casualties/arrests = more potential risk.

While this is a reasonable base point, there are a number of platforms and datasets now which can produce sector-specific derivative data to augment and develop this to provide more context, and a more complete risk management profile. Examples of this include:

Underwriting

Loss Prevention

Claims

Pricing/actuarial activities

Chartering

Vetting

Vessel Arrest

Maritime Domain Awareness

Business development:

The likely outcome of a casualty or deficiency noted in an inspection is that a component of the vessel will need to be repaired or replaced. This provides ample opportunity for suppliers of these parts to reach out at exactly the right moment. The same can be said of those seeking legal guidance after a collision or, at the more permanent end of the spectrum, a salvager looking to assist with recovering the vessel from the seabed. Examples include:

Salvage

Ship supply marketing and business development

Casualty legal representation

Loss Adjustment

How do I access the data? 

From the source:

For PSC data, the MOU’s have their own websites and databases which can (usually) be accessed freely:

Port State Control websites

Given the breadth of sources for casualty data, this is significantly more challenging. Platforms: 

Suppliers of this data will often significantly simplify obtaining this information by displaying it as part of their platforms. This will include: the aggregation of many/all the datasets and arranging them as part of vessel/company reports, alerting functionality or the collation and standardisation of the qualitative information.

Data feeds:  

In addition to the above, many suppliers will provide these datasets as a direct delivery via API or FTP(S3 or equivalent). The benefits generally remain the same as the platform delivery, but data delivery enables the ingestion and presentation within a buyers own systems.

In addition to this, the data can be delivered in a one-off file which could be ingested and used for historical analysis and projection, or to feed a company’s own Machine Learning/AI tools.

How to assess one supplier vs another

The two main measurements of Vessel Incident data are frequency and coverage.

Frequency: measured by the speed of update.

Casualty reports for a new business opportunity can be significantly less useful if delivered behind the competition. Additionally, if an MOU data point is not uploaded until months after the event, there could have been significant risk or opportunity lost. Assessing these on an individual report/vessel basis vs the source material timestamp would provide strong insight to this metric.

Coverage: the volume of the data over a specific period, or in total will give a strong indication of the breadth of coverage from any supplier.

Is there a cost to use the data? 

Free:

As noted above, the MOU data is available generally for free on the individual sites, however the time spent cross referencing against a single vessel would be significant.

Paid for:

Data and platform suppliers provide pay for service that aggregate, clean and organize the data into easily accessible solutions. These data sets are typically part of a wider information sets that link vessel data, ownership, incident and risk data to support users to better understand the ships their counterparties.

Conclusion 

Vessel incident data is a vital component of any organisation wishing to effectively manage their risk, and identify new business opportunities, with broad an applicable use cases across a range of industries.

The number of holistic suppliers in this field is relatively small, and as a large segment of the data is free at source, the question of purchasing tends to focus on resource allocation.

  • Do teams have the time to spend conducting the research with every MOU on a per-vessel basis?

  • Do immediate and casualty reports have a meaningful impact on a team's business development or risk management strategy and capabilities?

These are the questions which an organisation should be asking themselves before proceeding with these datasets, and in many occasions, the time freed up by immediately receiving this information is worth significantly more the prices it’s charged at – enabling team members to focus their attention on more innovative opportunities.

We hope this article has been helpful in understanding what vessel incident data is, where it comes from, how it's used and how to access it.

For more information on vessel incidents and other maritime data and applications, reach out for free support.

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