North

Arctic ship traffic grows, accident toll spikes: report

Arctic ship traffic has increased in the past decade, and so has the number of accidents, an insurance company reports.
Reduced sea ice in the past decade has led to increased traffic around the Arctic Circle and, not surprisingly, to an increase in accidents. (Environment Canada photo)

Arctic ship traffic has increased in the past decade, and so has the number of accidents, an insurance company reports.

The most recent Shipping and Safety Review, published annually by Allianz Global, reports 55 ship accidents in the waters of the Arctic Circle in 2014. That's up from three in 2005.

According to the report, machinery damage or failure accounted for about half of the incidents. Only one ship accident, off the coast of northern Norway, was considered a total loss.

The report says 71 ships navigated some or all of the Northern Sea Route across Russia in 2013, although increased ice coverage reduced that number in 2014.

The report notes the Polar Code, which aims to curb risks from increased traffic in the Arctic and Antarctica, has been welcomed by the shipping industry.

However, while the code addresses many safety issues, questions remain, the report notes, particularly in the areas of crew training, vessel suitability and potential clean-up. The code, it says, will need constant revision.

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