Admiralty Law News and Statistics

As the world continues to struggle with the price and danger of traveling and shipping by air, more and more people are returning to traditional avenues of commerce and transport. This means that there is more demand for jobs and work in many maritime fields, but without proper understanding of the hazards involved with such an enterprise many people fail to realize their rights if they are injured or harmed in their line of work.Seamen, sailors, and longshoremen must stay informed of the latest news stories and statistics that affect their profession in order to stay as safe as possible. It is this information that could mean the difference between life and death, or the ability to collect a settlement because of changes in the law. Maritime and admiralty law can be extremely confusing, so up-to-date information and statistics can make the difference between justice and misery.

Admiralty Law Statistics

General Maritime Statistics

  • There are over 44,000 vessels covered by American maritime law, ranging from containers to tankers to inland agricultural tows to lake dredges, self-unloaders, and passenger ferries.
  • Ocean-going and inland vessels transport over one billion tons of cargo and almost 80 million passengers each year.
  • Maritime trade accounts for annual revenues of over $222 billion, which is about 3.3 percent of national Gross National Product (GNP).
  • 124,000 Americans, including 80,000 vessel crew members, directly rely on maritime trade for their livelihoods.
  • Maritime workers contribute $15 billion annually to the economy, including $4 billion in direct wages to American citizens.

Maritime Deaths in 2004:

  • Fishing 37
  • Finfish Fishing 10
  • Shelfish Fishing 18
  • Deep Sea, Coastal, and Great Lakes Water Transportation 39
  • Deep Sea Freight Transportation 36
  • Inland Water Transportation: 4
  • Inland Water Freight Transportation: 4
  • Marine Cargo Handling: 11
  • Navigational Services to shipping: 3
  • Port and harbor operations: 3

Fishing Safety and Accidents Statistics

  • The fishing industry is the deadliest maritime one and in 2004, 38 fishermen died at a rate of 86.4 per 100,000.
  • Drowning is the most common cause of death in this industry
  • A 1999 report by the United States Coast Guard stated that “commercial fishing continues to rank at or near the top of the most hazardous occupations in the United States.”
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reports that commercial fishing is the nation’s single most deadly occupation, more dangerous than felling trees, flying airplanes, or mining coal.
  • Injury rates for fishers are also high. Of the serious fishing accidents analyzed in a Swedish study, about one third were caused by fishers becoming caught or jammed in fishing gear or machinery, such as winches (26).
  • The number of recreational boats involved in commercial vessel incidents has been climbing since 1996

Barge Safety and Accidents Statistics

  • The U.S. Coast Guard and American Waterways Operators reported in 2003 that there were 2,692 bridge-vs.-barge accidents involving towing vessels nationwide between 1992 and 2001.
  • 11% of maritime fatalities involve Barges

Tugboat Safety and Accidents Statistics

  • In 2002 there were 5,445 towboats in the U.S., 3,429 of which were involved in inland waterway trade.
  • In 2000 there were 32.2 towboat/tugboat casualties per one million trip miles compared to 34.6 in 1999, 38.2 in 1998 and 37.7 in 1997.
  • Towboats and tugboats have ranked as the number one vessel type involved in incidents since 1994.

Number of Commercial Vessel Incidents by Type of Vessel—Top 10 Vessel Types: 1992–2000

Vessel type199219931994199519961997199819992000
Towboat/tugboat1,5081,6902,3552,6332,4292,2112,1802,0491,802
Fishing boat1,9841,9911,9591,5461,2961,2841,1541,2321,125
Passenger ship684789932982977903944936908
Freight barge723795909983964792747771640
Tank barge8188611,066949799778729647619
Freight ship9159551,037937746701689668510
Recreational boat489639718277189325411437480
Tank ship542545628467355358348286230
Oversized vessel210242184135136146179138131
Unclassified vessel146132175153397393223166115
Total, top 108,0198,6399,9639,0628,2887,8917,6047,3306,560
Total, all vessels8,7349,45710,8529,8069,1918,9158,4797,8626,903
Percentage of total, top 1091.8%91.4%91.8%92.4%90.2%88.5%89.7%93.2%95.0%

Admiralty Law News

With the large numbers of vessels in the water at any given time, it is not surprising that so many mishaps occur without making the national news. The few news stories that are covered are important, for the stories inform both the public and the maritime workers themselves about the large fleet of vessels of the seas and waterways, and provide insight into the people who daily risk their lives on the high seas.