Vol 70, No 1 (2019)
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Published online: 2019-03-28

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Crew and passenger deaths from vessel accidents in United Kingdom passenger ships since 1900

Tim Carter1, John G Williams2, Stephen E. Roberts2
Pubmed: 30931511
IMH 2019;70(1):1-10.


Background: There is very limited systematic analysis of the causes and consequences of maritime accidents across the whole passenger sector during the twentieth century either in United Kingdom (UK) or in other maritime nations, but some of the larger events have been the subject of detailed investigations that led to improved safety measures. In recent years, there has been increased attention to the analysis of passenger ship accidents, especially in relation to the two now dominant markets: vehicle/passenger ferries and cruise ships.

Materials and methods: Long-term trends since 1900 in passenger and crew deaths on UK seagoing pas- senger ships that have sustained a maritime accident, as defined by Lloyds Register, have been collated and analysed. 

Results: Over the course of the 20th century, there has been a continuous fall in the number of incidents and in their severity. This may be a reflection of improved vessel safety, however the scale and nature of UK passenger shipping has also changed markedly over the period.

Conclusions: In addition to the reducing frequency of deaths it is apparent that the majority of fatalities in both crew and passengers came from a very small number of major events during the study period. Altho- ugh there has been no major disaster involving a UK passenger ship in the last 30 years, major casualties with heavy loss of life continue in the world passenger fleet, in recent years involving flags such as Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and The Philippines. 

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