International Shipping Hazards

 In cargo, Cargo Insurance, export, import, International Shipping

Guest Blog


Anna Jennifer


International shipping is an incredibly important aspect of a country’s growing economy. Cargo control measures, safe passage and other factors contribute to the overall success of most shipping operations. As more countries continue to send and receive products from abroad, there is a higher potential for maritime shipping disasters to take place. Ships and their insurers are being forced to make tough decisions regarding the best practices to off-set financial disasters caused by environmental factors and human error. The risks associated with open-ocean transportation have placed some insurers at odds with shipping companies.

international shipping hazards

There are inherent risks involved when large, super-sized ships transfer products through areas that are considered to be dangerous. An increase in shipping casualties has paved the way for cargo control personnel to implement tighter guidelines. These guidelines are designed to prevent a ship from becoming overloaded at port. When a large ship becomes top-heavy in rough seas, large container boxes become dislodged. These containers often float just underneath the surface of the water, which makes them nearly impossible for other shipping vessels to see. Once night falls, this task is made even more difficult.

A recent study, which was conducted between 2009 and 2013, shows that shipping casualties have increased to 45 per year. One previous study, from 2002 to 2007, indicated that there were only 7 shipping casualties during the same number of years. One insurer, named Allianz, has expressed concern over the increased use of large cargo ships. Some of these ships are as long as four football fields. This means that the potential for huge insurance claims is greater than it ever has been in the past. While more companies are using super-sized container ships, insurers are worried that heavy cargo loads can lead to catastrophic results.

Another hazard which has plagued the international shipping community is piracy. Piracy has made headlines in recent years, particularly off of the coast of Somalia. Large container ships are inviting targets for pirates who use outdated sonar to track them down. However, Allianz Insurance has stated that incidents of piracy actually decreased in 2013. There were 264 reported incidents worldwide, which was a decrease of 11% from the previous year. While overall piracy has shown a decline, there is an increase in activity off of the coast of Indonesia, with a staggering 700% increase of incidents reported since 2009.

Global warming has actually caused more worry for international shipping companies as well. Previously closed routes within Arctic waters are now open for travel. These routes provide a direct path for ships, but they are not without their hazards. A large iceberg can destroy a ship in a matter of minutes, causing loss of life and financial ruin. This appears to be a risk that many shipping companies are willing to take, because fuel costs become much smaller, and lower shipping times leads to more deliveries annually. More companies are working together to ensure safe deliveries through untested waters.


About Contributor:

Anna Jennifer is a third-generation mover. Her grandfather established his own moving company back in the 1930s, which served areas throughout the greater Ohio area. In her teens, she worked at the company and learned the ropes. Although the business did not survive, Anna went on to pursue her interests in business and logistics. After graduating from the University of Ohio and getting her MBA from the Oxford School of Business, she worked with several logistics companies in Europe and the Asia Pacific. She returned to the US and joined; one of the largest moving supplies manufacturer and supplier in the United States.


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